Physics & Fiction
January 20 - March 12, 2022
Curtis Talwst Santiago
Greeting the New Year with an expression of multiplicity, Physics & Fiction collectively engages an uncertain, increasingly surreal future. The five artists represented in Physics & Fiction destabilize reality, portraying a world re-rendered by science fictions, personal mythologies, ritual and collective memories. Working across painting, illustration, mixed media and sculptural work, Duncan, Green, Massadas, Miki and Santiago draw from historical and ancestral references as well as their own lived experiences. Examining and celebrating the environment, intersectional identity and generational relationships, Physics & Fiction is interested in the new myths being made amid old rules and realities.
Organic, biomorphic and earthly, Massadas’ paintings and Green’s sculptures present new ways for looking at and being in the world. Awash in color and lush with forms, Massadas’ landscapes almost appear alien, their dream-life visions charged with ambiguous, surging energy and presence. Exploring what she calls an “aesthetics of otherness,” Green’s sculptures mine ritual, material, history and mycology. She creates works that evoke an embodied world threaded with hidden networks of communication like those in the trans community. Reimagining space, historical time and the natural world, Green’s and Massadas’ strange, but familiar works breathe life into invisible-potential worlds, communal support systems and transformation.
Exploration of the medium is a key to establishing visibility of intersectional identities. Depicting familiar, often ordinary, inanimate objects as spirited beings, Miki, much like Green, charges old forms and rituals with history and a lineage. Miki’s felt sculptures and watercolors depict yōkai from the mythology of the Shinto tradition. By engaging with these ancient mythologies, Miki hopes to forge new collective narratives that express contemporary cultural values, echoing dichotomies of human identity and transformation. Likewise working in painting and sculpture, Santiago unearths ancestral memories drawing from his Afro-Caribbean roots to tell lesser-known narratives. Totemic and towering, crowned with a set of red horns, Santiago’s Jab Jab Knight (2020) is an ominous inverse of Miki’s affable figures, a narrative of larger, more formidable forces.
Bridging past and future with the form of a saga, Duncan’s monumental batik on canvas works form the culmination of a series of work the artist has been creating over the past 15 years. With sprawling, graphic works like The Hunt for Consciousness (2019-2021), Duncan breathes life into a legend of his own making, viewing history and the history of painting as inextricably linked—temporality, materiality and artistic practice all tied together.
Zhivago Duncan (Terre Haute, Ind., b. 1980) is a first-generation Syrian American artist based in Mexico City. Duncan’s work is a negotiation of the disconnection between the physical and metaphysical state of consciousness and how we relate to it through culture and history. Through painting, sculpture, installation and performative machines, Duncan attempts to reconcile that disconnection that exists and will always exist through various different theories and cultural practices which create grand ideas, whether, religion, physics literature, myth or science fiction. Through using myth and religion as a framework Duncan navigates through concepts of where we have come from and where we are going, what we can control and what we cannot. In 2007, Duncan received his BFA in painting from Chelsea College of Art and Design London. His works are in the collections of the Perez Art Museum Miami; Saatchi Collection, London; Barjeel Foundation Sharjah; Olbricht Collection, Berlin and various private collections worldwide.
Nicki Green (Boston, b. 1986) is a transdisciplinary artist working primarily in clay. Her sculptures, ritual objects and various flat works explore topics of historic preservation, conceptual ornamentation and the aesthetics of otherness. She has exhibited internationally, notably at the New Museum, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris and The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Green was a 2020 Art Matters fellow, 2019 John Michael Kohler Art Center resident and SFMOMA SECA Award Finalist, among others. In 2009, she received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and in 2018, an MFA from UC Berkeley. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bruna Massadas (Rio de Janeiro, b. 1985) lives and works in Bozeman, Mont. She received a BFA from California State University, Fullerton in 2009 and an MFA from California College of the Arts in 2012. Massadas’ first solo exhibition, The Face Painter, was at Guerrero Gallery in 2018. Recent exhibitions include CULT Bureau in Oakland, Calif., BOZOMAG in Los Angeles and The Pit in Los Angeles. Massadas works as an adjunct professor at Montana State University, Bozeman.
Masako Miki (Osaka, Japan, b. 1973) is a multidisciplinary artist who has resided in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. She has exhibited throughout the Bay Area at venues including Headlands Center for the Arts, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Kala Art Institute and The Lab. Miki recently installed nine sculptures as a permanent installation on the Uber Technologies’ campus in Mission Bay, San Francisco. She was a resident artist at The Wassaic Project, Wassaic, N.Y.; Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vt.; Project 387, Gualala, Calif; Kamiyama Artists in Residency, Tokushima, Japan; Facebook Artist in Residence, Menlo Park, Calif. and the de Young Museum, San Francisco, with an accompanying solo exhibition in 2016. She received the 2018 Inga Maren Otto Fellowship from the Watermill Center in New York and 2017 Artist Fellow Award from Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. Her works are in the collections of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Facebook, The Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation, New York and private collections. Miki received her MFA from San Jose State University and has been on the adjunct faculty at University of California Berkeley, Davis and Mills College.
Curtis Talwst Santiago (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, b. 1979) studied as an apprentice of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. He has exhibited internationally at venues such as The FLAG Art Foundation, New York; The New Museum, New York; The Eli and Edythe Broad Museum at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.; the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.; the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada; The Pérez Art Museum Miami; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and the SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Ga.; among others. The artist was included in the inaugural 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art; the SITE Santa Fe 2018 Biennial, SITElines.2018: Casa tomada, in Santa Fe, N.M. and was featured in the 2018 Biennale de Dakar in Dakar, Senegal. His work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Santiago considers himself decentralized and lives and works between New York, Toronto and Cologne, Germany.