Evolve Urban Arts Project Presents “Flights of Fancy: Elements of Surrealism”

By Editorial Team on January 12, 2011


Evolve Urban Arts Project on East City Art
Lotus/Lotis: Seedpod, Micheline Klagsbrun. Photo Courtesy of Evolve Urban Arts Project

The Evolve Urban Arts Project presents its first exhibition of 2011, Flights of Fancy: Elements of Surrealism featuring six artists from the Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle.  The DC-based artists — Iwan Bagus, Peter Karp, Micheline Klagsbrun, Trix Kuijper, Joyce McCarten and Langley Spurlock — all create works which embody or employ key elements of Surrealism.

The Surrealist movement, formed in the early 20th century as a response to the chaos of World War I, encouraged its adherents to emphasize random play, free association and creative juxtaposition within visual arts and literature.  Its Surrealist Manifesto, penned in 1924 by the writer Andre Breton, argues for “the omnipotence of the dream” in the creation of a Surrealist work.  Major visual artists of the period, including Yves Tanguey, Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, are celebrated eighty years later for their dream-like imagery.

Evolve Urban Arts Surreal exhibition on East City Art
Palace of Tears, Peter Karp. Photo courtesty of Evolve Urban Arts Project

Surrealism’s embodiment of playful chance, nonlinear narratives and unusual visual elements influences the artists featured in this exhibition. Trix Kuijper’s pieces appear as if painted at the height of the movement’s reign.  Kuijper’s imaginations explore the “duality of the natural world” by combining soft, organic forms  with inorganic shapes of metal or stone.  By painting what are often physically impossible settings, she seeks to create a world not shackled by preconceived assumptions of right and wrong.

Phantasmic imagery also abounds in Micheline Klagsbrun’s paintings of human subjects undergoing metamorphoses.  Klagsbrun is inspired by her long-time interest in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, whose literary themes seek to explore how our chaotic psyches transform over time.  She states her subjects “inhabit a different space and time, a dream-world where the law of gravity is replaced by the laws of the unconscious.”    With whispers of eroticism and raw physicality, these human/nonhuman hybrids exist in a state that only our dreams could create.

Also featured in the exhibition are paintings by Joyce McCarten.  McCarten’s featured works, which lean towards abstraction, are created using a sense of experimentation and imagination.  By letting go of the urge to paint in a rational, objective-based manner, she is able to free her mind to create ephemeral responses to the world around her in way that both startles and surprises the viewer.

Surrealism’s impact was and is not limited merely to those artists who paint in two dimensions on canvas.  This exhibition features the mixed-media work of Peter Karp and Langley Spurlock.  Karp’s assemblages, a mélange of found objects and printed material, create nonsensical, dreamlike narratives which encourage the viewer to momentarily suspend his or her disbelief of reality.    Likewise, Spurlock creates whimsical sculptures often incorporating objects related to play, encouraging the viewer to leave the mundane, adult world behind and live as a child again.

The emerging field of photography also played a role in advancing the Surrealist agenda.  Photographer Iwan Bagus carries on that tradition with his black and white images featuring multiple, overlapping images of a singular male model within a static environment.  His manipulation of these digital images creates a narrative divorced from the logical flow of normal time.  In other works, his muse is adorned with feathers, creating a human/avian hybrid much in line with Klagsburn’s human/botanical forms.

Flights of Fancy: Elements of Surrealism runs through February 28, 2011. The Project space is located in the Pierce School Lofts at 1375 Maryland Avenue, NE, in the H Street Arts and Entertainment District.  Hours for the Project are: Mondays through Thursdays:  1-5pm,  Fridays: 10-5pm, Saturdays:  11am -2pm and by appointment.