This exhibition, curated by Yvonne Force, brings together a group of contemporary artists who explore the complexity and resonance of a long association between the natural world, sexuality and fertility, and spirituality and mysticism. Force’s understanding of the artistic practice as akin to witchcraft—resonant with ideas of creation in both the divine and horticultural senses—informs the curation of works that span landscape, figuration, symbolism and abstraction.
Presenting 29 artists (29 years is the length of Saturn’s orbit around the sun) and inspired by the modernized expression “Oh my Goddess!,” the exhibition is playfully engaged with both traditional and nontraditional deific archetypes: the mystic, the warrior, the sage, the lover, the maiden, and the matriarch. Loaded with surrealism, symbolism and humor, they also act to lend credence to the ongoing significance of figurative painting and sculpture. In bringing together several generations of women working internationally, Force's "Seed" simultaneously illustrates the continued vitality of contemporary studio practice.
Participating artists include Theodora Allen, Morgan Blair, Sascha Braunig, Cecily Brown, Ginny Casey, Jessica Craig-Martin, Lacey Dorn, Rachel Feinstein, Vanessa German, Loie Hollowell, Shara Hughes, Baseera Khan, Sanam Khatibi, Kate Klingbeil, Hein Koh, Emily Marie Miller, Wangechi Mutu, Sophia Narrett, Katherina Olschbaur, Yoko Ono, Ebony G. Patterson, Sarah Peters, Ruby Sky Stiler, Claire Tabouret, Ambera Wellmann, Summer Wheat, Robin F. Williams, HieJin Yoo, Lisa Yuskavage, and Sarah Zapata.
Lisa Yuskavage, strongly associated with the renewed interest in figurative painting, shows A No Man’s Land 2 - a wilderness filled with women and children - alongside a younger generation of painters whose astute observations of the strange form of the body are illuminated by Yuskavage. Ambera Wellmann’s entangled women’s torsos appear as almost ceramic on the canvas; Robin F. Williams’ In The Gutter is a wryly comic riposte to any concept of a ‘polite’ female body; Katharina Olschbaur’s keenly surrealist oil on canvas depicts a pair of poised, heeled legs emerging from the white bell of a flower’s head.
Further investigations into sexuality are rendered through the transcendent power of abstraction and symbolism. Theodora Allen’s pastel triptych is grounded by its central panel’s broken white heart; Loie Hollowell’s From the Beginning (inversed) features an almond-shaped black hole that nods both to the beginning of the universe and to birth (for Hollowell, her works are pure, self-contained sexual objects that pulsate with energy.) Cecily Brown’s gestural strokes engulf themselves in semi-abstraction in September Song; Morgan Blair’s spray-painted heaps of color present as almost-bodies heaped on top of one another.
Reconsidering the iconography of female royalty and deities are Sarah Peters, whose sculpture Figurehead questions themes of power and authority (its layered structure mirroring that of an Egyptian pyramid) and Sanam Khatibi, whose Empire of the birds explores animality, primal impulses and the tensions between domination and submission.
The performance Blonde-Demand (2018) by Lacey Dorn will be on view throughout the duration of the exhibition opening and on the following day (Friday, June 22.) To participate, audience members place orders from a menu of iconic blonde films, and Dorn instantly creates a scene from that film. Performing against a green screen, Dorn is simultaneously projected onto the walls on either side, with backdrops from the original film cut behind her, to create a 360 degree “live Netflix” immersion.
Yoko Ono’s iconic work Door will be on view. Cynthia Rowley will design the visual communications for the exhibition.