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PEEKSKILL, NY—Hudson Valley MOCA is pleased to announce Where is the Madness You Promised Me: Dystopian Paintings from the Marc & Livia Straus Family Collection, an exhibition of contemporary paintings on view February 16–April 21, 2019.
In 1796, French artist Hubert Robert (1733-1808), known for his prolific rendering of ancient ruins, painted Imaginary View of the Grande Gallery in the Louvre in Ruins, which portrayed the halls of the famous institution reduced to rubble. Only the Apollo Belvedere of classical antiquity remains, and below him, an artist sketches the wreckage. By projecting the fate of civilizations past onto a beacon of imperial and cultural power, Robert introduced a potentially prescient image that begged the question: When order descends into chaos, what rushes in behind it?
Where is the Madness You Promised Me brings together a selection of international contemporary painting that goes beyond the typical gray, post-apocalyptic landscape. Inspired by personal experience and real-life observations, the works in this exhibition imagine potential dire futures while remaining firmly rooted in present fears and anxieties.
The paintings presented in Where is the Madness You Promised Me act as psychological vehicles of social commentary by exploring extreme classism, deteriorating environments, global reliance on technology, and various ills that may mutate into bleak new futures.
In "Night Flight or Midnight Migration, or On My Merry Way," Hernan Bas depicts a bucolic, yet uninhabitable landscape of overgrown and wondrous foliage that has consumed humanity. Like the ruins of ancient Rome, our world has succumbed to the forces of nature and a single man appears alone—lost. The wild environment and diffident character are a vehicle through which Bas evokes discomfort and isolation—a psychological dystopia.
Other artists, such as Ian Davis, borrow imagery from totalitarian states to illuminate absurdities in our social systems. In "Monument," a crowd of robotically identical businessmen assume a circular formation around a around a grand fountain. Through this arrangement, Davis likens these men to the armies of authoritarian states. These defenders of the economy exude the same discipline and lack of individuality once associated with war machines, a nod to our prioritization of wealth and economic clout.
Yet, artists such as Daniel Pitin envision dystopia as the destruction of manmade structures and the ruination of our physical environment. Dark renderings of dilapidated cities and buildings suggest turbulent upheaval and distress. The artists do not contextualize this ruination, but rather leave viewers to ponder the cause. The haunting and occasionally humorous paintings in the exhibition are symptomatic of artists’ suspicion of the status quo and an unsteady fear of tomorrow—they are warning signs painted to awaken the observer. In presenting these bleak absurdities, "Where is the Madness You Promised Me" demands a critical look at the present and the very structures upon which we stand.
Featured Artists: Hernan Bas (American), Tjebbe Beekman (Dutch), Jonas Burgert (German), Nigel Cooke (British), Ian Davis (American), Tim Eitel (German), Sven Kroner (German), Marin Majic (German), Djordje Ozbolt (Yugoslavian), Daniel Pitin (Czech), Rick Prol (American), Michael Raedecker (Dutch), Norbert Schwontkowski (German), and Anj Smith (British).
Members free, $10, $5 Seniors, students, Peekskill residents
Hudson Valley MOCA
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