Amelia Biewald puts your travel photos to shame with her latest series, now on view at Rosalux Gallery. You think your Instagram photos from your trip to Europe are the bomb? Just take a look at how Biewald has transformed her snapshots of Northern Italy for her co-exhibition, “Pinch.” Showing work along with Terrence Payne, Biewald demonstrates a delightful eye and an imaginative use of materials for a dreamy show that takes you along on its journey.
At first, Biewald’s works look like ceramic tiles that one might find at a tourist shop on the streets of Italy. The pieces are actually made with watercolor and ink on rag paper, but the blue wash on white has a glossy quality, with the glaze making it seem more fragile than it probably is. The images are of antiquated architecture, pictured upside down, with melting balustrades and dreamy looking 18th-century figures floating through the scenes.
In some cases, Biewald clusters the pieces together so they look like clouds on the corners of the gallery walls. It’s like they are meant to be seen in your peripheral vision, these fantastical meanderings into not just a place but an idea of a place and a storybook version of history. She’s playing with this idea of a capricious yesteryear, with castles in the clouds and pretty ladies with powdered wigs that are not rooted in actual history but rather buoying in a collective memory of the European antiquity.
Paired with Biewald are the works of Terrence Payne, who uses not-so-subtle subliminal messaging in his paintings.
Payne’s portraits employ pastel colors punctuated with bright red, and depict a cast of odd looking characters in various costumes. They’re droopily posed, often with some message written in small letters behind them so that you can’t read everything the message says.
For example, in one piece, two ambiguously gendered cowboys in matching outfits, complete with guns in their holsters, wrestle with their faces turned away from the viewer. Written in small red lettering, you can read “Somebody always see… get the lower hand,” with the missing words/letters covered by the figures’ bodies. The two figures’ peachy hands are holding each other at various parts of their bodies, but there’s also an extra hand-like object, perhaps a red glove, holding one of the figures by the ankle.
It’s a playful, mildly erotic work that speaks to subtle dynamics in relationships, but there’s also possibly there's a message in there about guns in our culture, which gets repeated in another painting, also portraying two figures with guns. In If Smarts Were Bullets Then No One Would Ever Get Shot, we see two pale and languid women with flowers in their hair and on their belts, slouching as they face the viewer. One wears a necklace that says “I’m with Stupid,” while the other wears one that says, “What?” Again, there’s a message in red lettering behind them, repeating the title but with some of the words missing, so you can’t really read the message unless you see the accompanying title next to the painting.
It’s a sophisticated kind of messaging, with a dose of humor and a sly, almost manipulative slant to it, the way an advertisement might persuade you to a certain way of thinking without you knowing it.
IF YOU GO:
Through October 31