The Calender’s Tales: Fantasy, Figuration, & Representation

(Installation shot of Raul Gonzalez and Elaine Bay’s work at 808 Gallery, courtesy of the artists and Carroll and Sons)

Last week I attended the opening for The Calender’s Tales: Fantasy, Figuration, & Representation at Boston University’s 808 Gallery. After reading over the list of participating artists and checking out their respective websites, I had the highest of hopes for this exhibition.

Prior to the reception, I even declared that The Calender’s Tales has all the makings of a “Best of 2012” exhibit for Boston, a bold statement to make so early on in the year.

And after walking around the gallery, and getting a chance to see the work in person..

..I am happy to report that I will not be eating my hat anytime soon.

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(installation shot courtesy of 808 Gallery)

Overview: “The Calender’s Tales: Fantasy, Figuration and Representation presents the work of contemporary artists who have invented mythical beings, fantastical creatures, allegorical figures, and personal avatars in order to critically engage and challenge concepts of otherness. Ranging from the humble to the heroic, these characters are not limited to permutations of the cultural or racial Other; indeed otherness can also connote in this context alternate states of being or perceptions of self or society.

The title of the exhibition takes its inspiration from The Arabian Nights, the classic anthology of Middle Eastern and South Asian folktales. Employing pictorial strategies that encompass elements of fantasy and allegory (also surrealism and mythopoeia mixed with occasional subversive humor), the participating artists construct and explore diverse identity formations. These “fictionalized” representations inhabit a psychological and physical space that is simultaneously alien and familiar. Expressed broadly and intimately, the works address a range of interconnected issues including the construction of cultural identity and stereotypes, metamorphoses and transcendence, and consumption and desire.

Conceptually driven and visually complex, the exhibition places formal emphasis on painting and works on paper—reminiscent of book illustrations or graphic novels—to demonstrate the various ways studio artists exploit and mobilize traditional materials to create hybrid forms and imaginary bodies.”

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(installation shot courtesy of 808 Gallery)

The flow of the gallery leads you around two large “H” (aerial) shaped partitions, and dips you into alcoves; giving the sensation that every turn may hold some new surprise, an unexpected piece to capture your attention. This welcomed feeling of discovery is unique for a gallery, a venue where often times you get all the information you need upon entering.

Four white walls. Art on them. Proceed.

I also appreciated that reception attendees were so candid about their experiences:

“Oh, you have only seen the works on the left side? The right is my favorite!”

“Go directly to the back while it isn’t crowded, I found that artist’s work to be the most engaging”

“I started on the left and surveyed all the work, and am making my way back for a second go around”

No matter their traversing preference, people were clearly excited to be talking about the work.

Making my own way around the gallery, I felt that both sides, front, back, up, down, around, and all other prepositions used to describe a space were strong and had works worth examining.

A few notables..

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Tino Rodriguez

(Innamorato)

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David Huffman

 (traumanauts)

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Raul Gonzalez & Elaine Bay

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Howie Tsui

(image courtesy of 808 Gallery)

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Summer Wheat

Summer currently has a solo exhibition at Samson Projects on view through March 17th.

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Iris Charabi-Berggren

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Trenton Doyle Hancock

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Larissa Bates

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(foreground: piece by David Huffman/ background: art talk)

The lighting in the gallery is a little bit tricky..which adds a certain shitty granular je ne sais quoi to my cellphone pictures..

Fine. It’s hard to hold a wine cup and take photos. But, hopefully these teaser shots encourage you to take a look at the exhibit for yourself while it is up through March 31st.

Trust me, even with the best of cameras, the painstaking detail in Howie Tsui and Iris Charabi-Berggren’s work cannot be fully appreciated from behind a computer screen. ♥

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