Thursday, November 3, 2016

STUDENT PICKS: Surreal Reality

Student Picks is a SCMA program in which Smith students organize their own one-day art show using our collection of works on paper. This month’s student curator and guest blogger Sifan Jiang '18 discusses her show "Surreal Reality: The Eye of the Beholder " which will be on view FRIDAY, November 4 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you there!

Guillermo Kuitca. Argentine, born 1951. Doble Teatro, 1997. Lithograph and etching printed in black on paper. Gift of Angela K. Westwater, class of 1964.

What is a tree? What do you see when look at the moon? How are the buildings arranged? You may observe these mundane phenomena every day, perhaps when you gaze from your window or perhaps on your way to class, but you might not think much about them. You have probably developed a standard way of perceiving these commonplace objects, and that standard is rarely challenged. However, are these perceptions a genuine depiction of the reality?

What might seem like an ordinary tree to one can be an illusion made up of hundreds of human minds. The perception of one can appear very peculiar to another, while the true reality can be something else altogether – perhaps something that appears surreal. Where then should one draw the line between reality and illusion?

Pete Turner. American, born 1934.  Ibiza Woman, from the portfolio Selected Color Images, 1960 negative; 2003 print. C-Print. Gift of Nicole Shearman, class of 1987, and Nicholas Fluehr.

In this exhibition, a variety of art is selected without restriction to any historic periods, styles, techniques, or cultures, but with the common motif of breaking down reality into pieces to manifest a new and surreal space from the fragments. These art works represent the artists’ attempts to construct reality in their distinctive flavors and find beauty in the seemingly illogical chaos of the surreal space. They seek to explore the connection and the boundary between reality and illusion.

Sekino Jun'ichiro. Japanese, 1912-1988. Karadera, 1972. Woodcut printed in eight colors on medium thick, moderately textured, cream-colored paper. Gift of Lucio and Joan Noto.

These artworks are not completely abstracted, but neither are they fully realistic visual representations of the world. They are of a distinct kind: locally, each component has its own canonical meaning and is easy to connect to perceived reality, but holistically, these works are an unrealistic portrayal of fragmented reality. Their contents and meanings can be challenging to define – to some perhaps the only possible interpretation is from their visceral reaction or subconscious feeling. Like the local component, everyone has his or her own way of interpreting the reality. Piece together these individual perceptions and the result is a surreal chaotic reality. However, like each artist represented in this exhibition has done, one can find beauty in this pieced-together world. The beauty of this world, then, truly lies in the eyes of the beholders.


Nancy Goldring. American, born 1945. Untitled (Photo Projection/Ocular Proof), 2000. Cibachrome. Bequest of Leo Steinberg.


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