We often find life enjoyable when there is more. More of everything – food, wine, people, happiness, time. However, abundance is not a singular desire, but a cyclical process. Once we have more, we want more and when we get more, we still want more. Joy is momentary, but its pursuit is continuous. Where does extravagance end? When do we say no? I’ll do it if you do it, we say, looking to others to validate our desires.
The artists in this exhibition explore different aspects of this human experience. They consider both the individual and collective responses we have to celebration and excess. Through their work, each artist mediates ideas of abundance and lack, pleasure and pain, consumption and production, waste and use; through various lenses that are internal, material, social and allegorical.
The Feast of the Gods, painted by Giovanni Bellini in 1514, inspired the title. The painting depicts the mythical ideal; a gorgeous landscape populated by charming figures, leisurely enjoying themselves in paradise. The representation of mythological figures as laymen engaged in the mortal pursuits of love and war inspired many to continue pursuing the richness of existence. However, this thematic abundance of life–once a subject of religious optimism and indulgence has been warped by the excess of modern overconsumption and disparity. The material has replaced the spiritual.
A visual vocabulary of the dynamics of indulgence and ignorance can look like many different things. The artists in this show construct powerful images and objects that grapple with extravagance and the darkness related to it, the implications and amusement of having a modern-day Feast of the Gods.
Sudipta Das (Indian, b. 1985) works in the medium of sculpture and installation using primarily the dakjee doll making technique to render figures that depict narratives of migrant and climate tragedy. The abundance of people and their material traces in a small space point towards depletion of life/materials.
Lindsey Lou Howard (American, b. 1997) is a ceramic sculptor whose work embraces themes of extravagance, excess and enjoyment. Through her work, she examines the political implications of consumption, pleasure, and addiction through depictions of decadent displays of food, indulgence, and addiction.
Melissa Joseph (American, b.1980) works with textiles and felting techniques to situate her work at the intersection of labor and gender. Her pieces in this show meditate on memories - personal and collective, through found objects and textile work.
Sangram Majumdar (Indian, b.1976) work intertwines disparate painting traditions and the aesthetic and symbolic relationship of light and color. His work is effective in nature and allows for narrative, memory, and sensory encounters. Through the stroke of the brush, Majumdar constructs and deconstructs perspective.
Ahsan Memon’s (Pakistani, b.1989) oeuvre primarily consists of oil painted portraiture. His figures create an aura of quietness and when the viewer really starts to listen to the paintings, the reflective chaos can be heard. Juxtaposing the theme of the exhibit, Memon’s paintings are not concerned with the material world rather depict an abundance of interiority and psychological depth.
Maheen Niazi (Pakistani, b. 1991) explores the intersections of religion and culture, and highlights points of fusion where both merge. Culture is seen as ever changing, whereas religion is often thought of as being firm in its code - yet - both flow into one another. She sees society steeped in misperceptions as religion is used to justify cultural practices.
Sanatan Saha (Indian, b.1975) tackles a palpable sense of tension in his renderings of the modern world. The pressures of living in fabricated realities in the contemporary time are increasing day by day; and so is the urge to seek ‘a space for respite’. The dilemma and conflict of a common man surrounded by social discourses is a predominant concept displayed.
Alia Shawkat (American, b.1989) is an actress, writer, and painter. Shawkat’s work subverts binaries such as : figurative/abstract, mind/body. Her paintings and drawings are an exploration of bodies that reflect on the interior world positioned against an exterior world that is humorous, sharp, and sometimes dark.
Pedro Troncoso (Dominican, b.1996) creates dreamscapes through larger than life figures. The cool blue and purple color schemes construct a sense of enigma while visualizing the dynamic between human and cyborgian subjects, creating a dialectic of consumption. The paintings depict them both consuming/ ingesting one another. The larger than life figures dominate, they ask the viewer to feel, see, think and importantly imagine with no limit, on a large scale.