Xanadu: Land of Enchantment

President’s Gallery

On view from March 20 through June 02, 2017

This show explores the world of imagination residing in the playfulness of imagery as it pertains to dreams. Legends, myths, and children’s fantasies as seen in Elysiac imagery rendered with seeming innocence while simultaneously containing biting commentaries.

Science has recognized the importance of creativity as a component of the imagination and as the source of all human achievement. Creativity is one of the basic skills learned by children that advances their cognitive development. Nurturing the imagination, which Einstein said, “is more important than knowledge”. Through their individual expressions, the artists Fay Ku, Mary Ting, D.Dominick Lombardi, Elli Chrysidou, M. Isabel Baraona, Simone Kestelman, Lydia Venieri, and Sofia Vlazaki examine the imaginary world of children and the Freudian phenomenon of dream conflation. For Fay Ku women’s plight takes on a humorous form, but one that is dark and problematic. Her graphite drawings of the female gender find her protagonists in odd situations; in a burning hot air balloon, on an elephant, or on a sinking boat. She comments on the unfair treatment of women in Taiwanese society by depicting images of exploitation with a bitter twist. They are drawn with care and are highly detailed and painted in watercolor and gouache. Lydia Venieri erects entire mythologies and symbolic systems from the already phantasmagoric world of news media. Her stories are played out using dolls and childlike imagery to counter media dementia, in painting, drawing, photography, video and the internet. Theogony explicates Venieri’s universe surveying two decades of work; work of one of the most celebrated and visionary Greek artists of our time. Elli Chrysidou’s site specific installations, both painted and sculptural address the status and identity of women often through the lenses of Medieval European art. She uses historic models to address contemporary issues with a playful, lyrical approach that speaks to the imagination as much as to innocence. There is also a great deal of beauty to Chrysidou’s approach, so that her work quietly communicates a vital interest with social change—with implied as opposed to explicit contention. D. Dominick Lombardi’s painting is another surreal vision of humans united with trees. In Call of Nature, (2015) a large upraised eye dominates a fragmented, dead tree stump next to a deer who is balanced in the ungainly act of either approaching the tree or lurching away, or both. While appearing comically monstrous, there is nothing very funny about this claustrophobic rock-filled barren world, the deer itself seeming to symbolize the precarious position of living in a world that is virtually upside down. M. Isabel Baraona through her watercolor studies expresses the secrets of the psyche while exposing the dark side of dreams as catharsis. Using hybrid forms, nubile girls in phantasmagorical settings she transforms their psychological fears into profound statements. Enigmatic as they appear, these unprecedented scenarios touch the human heart through their candor and synthesis of the temporal and spiritual. Sofia Vlazaki’s playful characters often children themselves, use play as a way to acknowledge their existence. With this in mind Vlazaki focuses on imaginary representations with children’s elements living their moment of realization. In this case when her work communicates with its audience reality unfolds its narrative applying the imaginary. Mary Ting is a visual artist working in installation, drawing, sculpture, and community projects that reflect on grief, memories and human interactions with nature. Her varied work is layered in imagery from family stories, folk, literary and non-fiction references. The environmental crisis and loss of species is a topic of grave concern and impels the work forward. Simone Kestelman for this exhibit, deals with children’s fairy tales like Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood that also can be said to have underlying sexual tensions within the human psyche. Freudian psychology seeing as it does human behavior as sexually motivated, would see it as a warning to innocents against smooth talking dangerous operators. 


Curated by: Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos


Image by  Simone Kestelman, Red, 2016, 34×24, Photograph