Dark Interior

May 2-3, 2015

50 Main Street, Yonkers, NY

O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself 

a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

Shakespeare, Hamlet

Claudine Maidique Gallery is pleased to present Dark Interior, a temporary group exhibition that examines the shadowy landscape of human emotion and the light-break of redemption in the context of Shakespeare’s masterwork, Hamlet. The work of the twelve talented artists in this show span a variety of media, but each piece offers a glimpse at the shadow self, or “bad dreams,” of the artist, as well as a view of the opposite of those nightmares—a life lived in resolution, peace, and purpose. For, as Hamlet puts it, our experiences are shaped by our perception of them, whether cast in dark or light: “…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Pam Zaremba’s evocative photography and mixed media pieces explore both internal and external environments where suggestive narratives conjure enigmatic emotions. Her installations—which incorporate hoarded collections of objects found in her father’s basement after his recent death—document the brilliant and knotted meanderings of his mind; these things and their conglomeration echo Hamlet’s obsession with his father’s death, mortality, pain, safety, fortune, and the future. Joel Werring’s haunting oil paintings imagine sculptural dreamscapes for his figures to wrestle with opposing forces—dark and light, sacred and profane. His imagery is both familiar and disconnected from reality, both forbidding and beckoning. These works balance an impulse for violence and chaos, like Hamlet’s hunger to avenge his father’s murder, with a sense of morality and order.

In many ways, Hamlet is about loss: loss of family, loss of sanity, loss of love. Corbett Fogue’s bizarre and vivid sculptures and installations also meditate on time, space, breath, and the loss and memory of his father, who died of a lung condition. Melissa Madonni-Haims crochets guttural examples of what loss feels like in yarn. Her manic and compulsive technique and expression mimics Hamlet’s own madness. Her pieces evoke the heaviness (and the lightness) of loss. Joleen Grussing also explores the devastation of loss of idealism and innocence in her mixed media collages that reflect on on divorce and separation from a past love.

In Hamlet, what you see is not always what you get: the illusion of what is presented is often in stark contrast to what lies underneath the surface. This theme of melancholy and reality distortion is also brought to mind by Hee Jin Kang’s photographs of discarded mattresses, which confront the viewer with the wrecked intimacy of one’s internal life tossed outside for public scrutiny or onslaught. Feelings of sadness and disgust challenge the viewer to reconcile the placement of this discarded furniture, where one sleeps (“perchance to dream”), stained with the bodily evidence of human existence—the receptacle of dreams, love, sex, tears, and joy. Nina Bentley channels Hamlet’s humor and mastery of word play with her mixed media pieces. Yet, her tongue-in-cheek distortion of a familiar object, such as a typewriter, belies the pain that lurks under the surface. Miggs Burroughs lenticular works superimpose contrasting views of the same subject, capturing these women, like Gertrude or Ophelia in Hamlet, as mixed states of old and young, battered and normal. And, Jahmane’s interpretation of revenge “served best” contextualizes street art in forms of advertisements, a social commentary on how our benign, modern-day tinctures poison our own bodies. 

Ultimately, Hamlet was an existentialist, famously quoted in his “to be or not to be” soliloquy where absolute truth is questioned. It is only through this internal conflict of dark and light that we can find peace. Shauna Pickering’s oil painting draws the viewer into a dark forest of confusion and indecision, while offering the path out, the hope of redemption in flashes of bright yellow. Danielle Holmes’ abstract painting engages with emotion, beauty, and stillness, while seeking and finding the resolution that comes with a cyclical process of connection to self. And, Stefan Radtke’s celestial photographs capture the luminous future—at sunrise, the first light—where, we ultimately intuit, the afterlife may begin.