May 26 – Jul 22
Opening: Thursday, May 25, 6-9 PM
Galerie Huit is delighted to present the worldwide solo debut exhibition ‘Big Cactus, Little Cactus‘ by British artist, Sara Berman.
Since Berman (b. 1975) graduated last year with an MFA from the Slade School of Art, London, she has built a unique oeuvre comprising textile sculptures, paintings and works on paper. Her deep interest in the dialogue between design, commerce and identity has inspired such connections within her work and practice as she explores the tension between authenticity and construct.
‘Big Cactus, Little Cactus‘ consists of new paintings, including three triptychs, a diptych, a pair of single paintings to be viewed together, and ink drawings depicting furniture design classics, objects, potted plants and patterned floors juxtaposed with glimpses of an individual person. The painterly assemblages evoke the surreal, an altered perspective of a domestic interior. Reality is both suspended and anchored as familiar desirables are abstracted in a game of narrative trickery.
The tradition of portraiture places the sitter central to the image, the subject its focal point. Trinkets and costumes symbolised wealth and stature and projected as much in the commissioned portraits from the 16th Century onwards – in Berman’s paintings, the protagonist is viewed in part, a discrete revelation of limbs indicate the presence of the feminine – representations of historical design pieces take precedence and the figure is held in the same regard as these cultural icons.
Formerly, a fashion designer, Berman is familiar with the constitution of a ‘look’. The photogenic Arne Jacobsen Egg chair, the Alvar Aalto vase, the Venini bottles, and the Richard Neutra dining chairs act as signifiers within her fictional constructs. They are considered pieces in a game – a system for building an allegorical image.
Structurally, accumulative layers of delicate colours bind the focal points within each composition. Motifs such as the hexagon, often painted in clusters and traversing each painting, connect the individual works. The cactus plant, another recurring motif is inserted in varied dimensions, creating a shift in scale within the same painting. In doing so, Berman deconstructs normal perspective and reassembles it, thus providing an alternative view.
‘Big Cactus, Little Cactus‘, the exhibition, offers paradoxes in how a projection, an aspiration or an image is formed. Berman inserts the popular cultural icons into her constructs to suggest our analogous relationship with the commercial image, and its persuasive content. However, her decisive mark making and application presents a new hierarchy where naked sections such as raw canvas reveal a disintegration of the construct. Her succinct deployment of proportion, repetition and abstract motifs perform a different visual articulation within this context, giving pause to our own image and how it is made manifest.
Established in 2010, Galerie Huit was founded by Jane Chao-Lee to promote emerging and established Asian artists. Due to the success of the initial four years, the gallery has relocated to a larger space at SOHO 189 Art Lane that comprises two floors totaling 2549 sq feet, providing scope for a wide range of exhibitions and projects.
Ahmad Zakii Anwar