Group exhibition exploring the magical and occult at projects+gallery
January 6, 2019 – St. Louis, MO – Barrett Barrera Projects is pleased to announce A Charm Against All That, a new exhibition taking place January 16 to March 14, 2020 at projects+gallery (4733 McPherson Ave). This group show explores the impulse toward the magical and the occult in response to catastrophic cultural circumstances. As a new decade begins, we find ourselves awash in anxious precarity—from the unstable fate of our political future to the critical state of the environment—leaving us skeptical of conventional means of asserting control over our circumstances. Therefore, alternative logics—ones that push against established, worldly orthodoxies — gain substantial appeal as viable methods for thwarting unwanted outcomes that have otherwise seemed immune to the precautions and solutions of standard rationale.
The exhibition is divided into two distinct sections. The main gallery is curated by Jessica Baran and features works by Brandon Anschultz, Harley Lafarrah Eaves, Hélène Delprat, Trenton Doyle Hancock and Charline von Heyl. The rear gallery is curated by Margaret Sherer and includes works from project+gallery’s collection by Chris Burden, Farrokh Mahdavi and Marilyn Minter, among others.
In Helene Delprat’s Lost Sleeping Beauty (2018), layered abstract textures obscure and reveal a world of phantasmagoric imagery — ghosts, ghouls, grinning flowers, elaborate moths — which roil like a witches’ brew of unknown portent. Similarly, in Harley Lafarrah Eaves’ painting Thematic Plot Points In the Wizard of Oz from Childhood Memories (2018) iconic aspects of the 1939 film—Dorothy’s picnic basket, the Wicked Witch’s broom and long, spindly fingers — float in a surreal dreamscape that suggests the power to conjure and possibly alter the past. Both artists’ deconstruction and recontextualization of popular mythologies engage a spell-like rhetoric—at once deliriously desperate and earnestly intentional in their desire to reinvoke the sense of magical agency inherent in childlike fantasy.
Also included in the exhibition are four Vodun fetish objects from the Fon people of Benin, which operate as intricate abstract assemblages of string, bones, padlocks and other ritualistic materials while also bearing the potential to function as actual “charms”—for healing, harming or influencing the human experience in some way. In conversation with these objects, Brandon Anschultz’s assemblage sculptures combine bright abstract geometries with personally significant materials — fabrics, jewelry, fur — that memorialize people and experiences of his past while emanating a sense of directed hope.
The rear gallery explores what is implied by “all that”—the moments of anxiety, apprehension, isolation and alienation that often accompany contemporary life. Be it the sleepless nights and resultant mornings that are the focus of the offset lithograph Untitled by Chris Burden (1974) or the uneasy clinical diagnosis of James Hoff’s Social Media Remorse Syndrome (2012), the artworks featured in this segment of the exhibition serve as expressions of a fraught collective consciousness which, in an attempt to soothe our troubled minds, pushes us to find solace and solutions in the unorthodox.
In all of the exhibited works, the artist is both vulnerable civilian and alchemical trickster, capable of moving between the onslaught of the everyday and the possibility of creative action.
About the artists in the main gallery
Brandon Anschultz works across media, creating abstract pieces, series and installations that dismantle and reinvent the formal and material language of painting as an allegory for interrogating the self. Anschultz has exhibited widely, nationally and internationally; his past solo exhibitions include Time Won’t Give Me Time at Flood Plain, St. Louis; Below Horizon at Regards, Chicago; Suddenly Last Summer at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Pacer at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Stick Around for Joy at Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis and Longue Vue House and Garden, New Orleans; and Round at White Flag Projects, St. Louis. Group exhibitions include New American Painting, Midwest Edition, Elmhurst Art Museum; The Tyranny of Good Taste, La Esquina, Kansas City & Columbia College, Chicago; All That Heaven Allows, fort gondo, St. Louis; All Good Things Become Wild and Free, Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Die Erklärte Ausstellung, Künstlerhaus Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria; among others. Aschultz received his BFA from Louisiana Tech Univeristy and his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where he lives and works.
Harley Lafarrah Eaves’ paintings, sculptures and installations blend psychedelic camp, occult mythology, pop cultural symbolism and working-class materiality as a means to exploring the vicissitudes of memory and loss. Eaves received his MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University of St. Louis and his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. His work has been featured in New American Paintings and in exhibitions at the Mildred Kemper Lane Art Museum, St. Louis; Zolla Lieberman Gallery, Chicago; Park Life, San Francisco; and BBQLA, Los Angeles; among other venues. He lives and works in St. Louis.
Parisian artist Hélène Delprat works in a variety of media, including drawing, painting, photography and video, and derives inspiration from a wide range of sources including ancient Greek literature, Romantic novels, film noir, French cinema and radio. Her phantasmagoric painterly compositions take historical and cultural references and distill them into a unique idiom that trades on a mercurial sense of familiarity. Delprat has exhibited internationally, with solo shows forthcoming this year at Kunsthalle Giessen, Giessen, Germany; Musée Picasso, Barcelona, Spain; Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, France; and Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France.
Trenton Doyle Hancock merges comic book narratives and abstraction in his vibrant, dizzyingly detailed prints, drawings and mixed-media paintings, in which he explores the struggles within himself and in our world. For the first nine years of his career, he focused on the creation of an epic, allegorical tale, shaped, in part, by the Biblical stories with which he grew up. Each of his works is a part of this ongoing drama, in which beehive-like “Mounds,” representing, in his words, “the Earth and stability,” battle with skeletal “Vegans,” who he describes as “a mob…unleashed to upset that stability.” Representative of the ongoing strife among humans, his compositions are full of words, colors and his imaginative characters. Hancock has exhibited extensively, including solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah and Atlanta; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth ; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Institute for Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; among others. He lives and works in Houston.
Contemporary German painter Charline von Heyl is internationally recognized for her cerebral yet deeply visceral artworks that upend longstanding assumptions about composition, beauty and narrative. Drawing inspiration from a vast array of sources—including literature, pop culture, metaphysics and personal history—von Heyl creates paintings that are impossible to singularly classify, offering, in her words, “a new image that stands for itself as fact.” Von Heyl studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and participated in the Cologne art scene in the 1980s before moving to New York in 1995. She now lives and works between New York City and Marfa, TX. Her work has been exhibited internationally in both solo and group exhibitions and is in collections around the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate, London; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and the Kunstmuseum Bonn.
The traditional Fon religion, called Vodun, is a polytheistic belief system encompassing public and private gods, ancestral spirits and charms. Fon fetish objects called bocio—are wooden figures made by blacksmiths under the order of a diviner. They are used by individual families for protection and embody the well-being of the village. They are usually set on a peg and covered with magical substances including organic materials and animal parts, which are believed to imbue them with certain powers.