Material Mythos

Laura Bernstein, Ben Dowell, Heidi Lau, Sangram Majumdar, and Clintel Steed

Opening Reception: Thursday, June 22, 6 - 8pm

June 22 – July 29, 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Installation view, Geary Contemporary, "Material Mythos", 2017

Ben Dowell

Natured Nurtured, 2017

Oil on linen

32h x 30w in

Sangram Majumdar

Starburst, 2015

Oil on linen

84h x 70w in

Heidi Lau

Skeleton of the Universe, 2013

Glazed ceramics

36h x 36w x 36d in

Clintel Steed

Electric Field #1, 2016

Oil on canvas

52h x 52w in

Sangram Majumdar

Wall, 2017

Oil on linen

66h x 60w in

Ben Dowell

My Time In It, 2017

Oil on linen

32h x 30w in

Clintel Steed

Beijing Series #14 cctv building, 2 Masses Together Becoming 1, 2016

oil, spray paint, and collage on masonite

40h x 35w in

Heidi Lau

The Megalith II, 2017

Unglazed ceramics, oxides, and moss

54h x 20w x 20d in

Sangram Majumdar

Upside Red, 2015

oil on canvas

30h x 24w in

Ben Dowell

Once Titled, 2016

Oil on linen

32h x 32w in

Heidi Lau

Pillars of the Earth, 2015

Glazed ceramics

32h x 16w x 18d each, variable

Laura Bernstein

Supernumerary Nipples, Parade Grounds, 2016

HD video, 5:06

Laura Bernstein

Prehistoric Bird / Arthropod Mere, Race Point, 2016

HD Video

5:15

Laura Bernstein

Panotti, Forest, 2016

HD video, 3:15

Press Release

Geary Contemporary is pleased to present a group exhibition featuring works by Laura Bernstein, Ben Dowell, Heidi Lau, Sangram Majumdar, and Clintel Steed. “Material Mythos” is a convergence of artists that engage the conversation of invented and sustained mythologies through material and object. Many of the works endeavor to build onto existing cultural mythos that the artist has been bestowed through heritage.

 

Macau-born Heidi Lau's hand-built ceramic sculptures are imbedded with symbols and elements that make reference to Daoist creation myths. Working to investigate the materiality and non-linearity of the past, her works embody a visceral, sometimes grotesque awareness of otherworldliness. They populate the temporal spaces between history and nature, and concurrently work to create a tether between the plane of the exhibition space and remaining works on the walls.

 

Brooklyn-based Sangram Majumdar embeds history and experience within his paintings, where fragmented information gives way to something new and unexpected. Historical artworks are often used as source material, where Majumdar replaces key elements and narratives with color fields, gestural marks, and renderings. Imagery that might anchor his work to a specific time, place, or figurative representation is hazy, offering an invitation to wander through the interior of a mind in flux.

 

This thought process is congruous to the performative paint gestures seen in Ben Dowell's work. Dowell uses one brush to pile lines and shapes onto his canvases, underscoring the nature of painting itself. Squares and rectangles structurally predominate as delectable clumps of brightly colored oil paint. Imperfect borders of exposed linen with leeching paint oils on each of the works are allowed to remain, generating a precarious relationship between material and image.

 

Boundaries of space and body are also questioned in Clintel Steed's painted structures. Steed loosely references specific buildings and structures with an explosive fracturing of form. His work celebrates paint as material, unlocking its inherent possibilities and varied viscosities, with interlocking facets of paint to be found within traversable space. 

 

In Laura Bernstein's video works, she confronts the relationship between observer and the observed—shifting and flipping between those who are in power and those who are held captive. She explores the relationship between the exemplary and the freakish, where humanoid species are reduced to dysmorphic limbs, discovering their nature through ad hoc ritual and disoriented movement: preening, courting, marking their territory, all within various landscapes.

 

All of these artists energetically court chaos and weave contradictions into their work. They share in the exploration of the spaces between actuality and illusion, myth and reality, and work to uncover and deconstruct the strangeness of the everyday.