Historical art movements such as The New Objectivity and Magical Realism emerged out of fraught times of oppression and fascism. Artists of these movements portrayed reality as exaggerated, strange, and surreal to reflect times of anxiety, instability, and fear. During World War I, artists such as Otto Dix and George Grosz witnessed the atrocities of war and later oppression under the Nazis. The only way to truly capture “the real” horror and bizarreness of everyday life was to depict reality as an uncanny combination of the cartoon and the real. Cartoons are direct, raw caricatures of what is seen, whereas realism is a ruthless, critical, and vivid depiction.
In Madeline Albright's book Fascism: A Warning, she notes that the two most-searched words in an online dictionary after the election were “surrealism” and “fascism.” People are trying to find words to explain the incongruous, unreal events of our time. Freud's Essay on
the Uncanny describes the horror and strange fear experienced in the everyday. We feel helplessness experienced in an increasingly traumatic and unstable world. As our basic human rights are threatened, these artists create eerie and fantastical worlds that reflect our lives today. How can artists express our humanity as forces erode reality and truth?
This exhibition presents new figurative painting that hybridizes the uncanny with caricature, exaggeration, and invented mythologies. The artists included in this show have discovered new worlds that reveal anxiety, mystery, and eeriness that reflect our current state of political unrest.
HR Curating is the curatorial practice of Hilary Doyle and Reid Hitt, who have curated over a dozen exhibitions and were directors of Projekt722 gallery for three years. Doyle is the founder of NYC Crit Club.
Meta Meta Meta LLC is a collaborative arts organization run by artists Leah Wolff and Guy Ben-Ari. Since 2009, they have been facilitating creative and discursive activities with the aim of supporting a diverse community of underrepresented artists through collaboration and community engagement. Meta Meta Meta LLC teaches workshops, organizes events, and produces publications in order to empower the public through increased access to the arts. AGENCY is a project space located in DUMBO, Brooklyn, established by Meta Meta Meta, LLC with the goal of promoting underrepresented and emerging Brooklyn based artists.
Image credit: Dominique Fung, A half inch from the tip, 2019
oil on canvas, 30"x 40"