Alchemy // Nicholas Cueva, Stacie Johnson & Brendan Loper
May 20th-June 12th, 2016
Elijah Wheat Showroom presents a group show titled, Alchemy. “The medieval chemical process of generating gold by the magical combination of basic elements” is a longstanding magical idea. Not only does the word promise longevity as an elixir for life, it attracts a mysterious combination of something common into something exceptional. The promise in this exhibition will mix painterly expressions interacting together in order to transmute a special kind of Universal currency. The attraction to this currency is not a sparkling gold embodiment, rather, a currency of time, of pleasure, of a contemporary market exchanging symbols to take away meaning for a renewed purpose in ‘this thing we call life’. The four artists’ works shown in this exhibition understand the mysterious process of turning ordinary materials into something impressive in a formidable way.
Nick Cueva uses natural unprimed upholstery as a canvas, combining oil paint and representing elements outside of a hazy void. As if a viewer has just awoken from a decadent dream with a groggy vision--the eyes struggle to make out their surroundings. Focusing on an unassuming material, a moment of recognition begins and the sculpture or painting’s message becomes a mysterious reveal. The reveal conjures a sultry pleasure and enjoyment of a life delightfully lived; becoming a transition between achieving dreams in a reality. Cueva’s marks prove a simultaneously refined and intuitively discovered canvas all while wrapping an ordinary still-life into an extraordinary entity.
The careful symbols and asymmetry found on the oil canvases of Stacie Johnson reflect a further mastery of manipulating paper, oils and objects into an optical wonder. Each canvas is sensibly combined with off-balanced colors where drop shadows and cutout shapes push the abstractive symbols in-between a here and now. It’s a visual pull advocating further inspection and wonder all while adding to a harmonious yet mystifying alchemy.
A hand-built ceramic wall shields a nude, energetic dancer in Hannah Walsh’s silent video “Hole Wall”. As if the discovery of the figure is the only visual reference to reality, she cautiously assembles a setting further frustrating an illusion of privacy. Therefore subjects her audience to the subtle mystery and a pleasurable voyeurism.
As Brendan Loper’s satirical works on paper cycle through a digital screen, it becomes obvious that the prolific wit, current irritations and social commentaries are a charmed intelligence. The enchanted characters, spanning a historical breadth, wallow in a structure that is rendered both absurd yet accurately representative of simple contemporary American culture. These carefully penned illustrations melt into a thrilling and often hilarious mockery. He proves that civilization emerging from a primordial well overflows with a banal social order, and transmutes into laughter, that which keeps us living longer, fuller lives.
These artists presented in the exhibit Alchemy wield an uncanny energy to connect messages based in the mathematical structure of visual language. Their combined chemistry provides magic to a viewer, so as to find pleasure, laughter, wonder and the currency of a golden time.