Sapiens / Stories
November 10, 2021 - April 30, 2022
Curtis Talwst Santiago
Marcel Pardo Ariza
Marcus Leslie Singleton
Aimee Friberg, curator and founding director of CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions, is bringing a new art project to the San Francisco Bay area for the eighth anniversary of her gallery. A second CULT location, named CULT Bureau (482 D 49th Street, Oakland, Calif.), opens on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 (from 6 to 8 p.m.), building upon CULT’s distinct focus to present cutting-edge, conceptual and experimental art by emerging and established artists and designers. Additionally, the new space will give seasoned and emerging collectors opportunities to connect with artists and artwork in an intimate and relaxed, salon-style environment. The inaugural exhibition Sapiens/Stories will feature artists who fashion personal and cultural mythologies through an exploration of environment, history and magic including Amy Lincoln, Amy Nathan, Bruna Massadas, Chris Fallon, Curtis Talwst Santiago, Dana Harel, Marcel Pardo Ariza, Marcus Leslie Singleton, Nicki Green, Masako Miki, Rebekah Goldstein, Ruxue Zhang and Sahana Ramakrishnan.
Storytelling is a connective tissue between all people and a marker of our evolutionary progress as humans. The artists featured in this presentation draw from familiar and imagined realities, weaving together modern mythologies that elicit déjà vu and envision the future. These 13 artists express a multiplicity of perspectives through painting, illustration, mixed media and sculptural work. Together they draw from historical and ancestral references as well as lived experiences to examine and celebrate the environment, intersectional identity and generational relationships by embracing the surreal.
The natural settings in Lincoln, Zhang and Massadas’ paintings are dream-like, stemming from and celebrating the magic of Mother Nature. Massadas draws from nostalgic memories of her homeland of Brazil, referencing her eternal connection to a now distant land—and reminding us of our responsibility to protect our Earth. Meanwhile, the beguiling flowers and plants in Fallon’s work are contrasted with peculiar, reptilian people fetishizing objects. His seamless inclusion of non-binary figures establish a norm of gender-ambiguity and exploration. His work also reveals an intimate lens to cultural appropriation, acknowledging his role as a bystander witnessing this flagrant behavior.
Exploration of the medium is a key to establishing visibility of intersectional identities. Ariza’s mixed-media photographic work also uses wry humor and tenderness to proudly share representations of intersectional queerness and connect generations. Miki’s felt and bronze 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. Ramakrishnan connects trans-Atlantic goddess mythologies to personal reflections and self-portraiture. She uses hybridity between animals and humans to reveal states of the human psyche.
Nathan, Green, Harel, and Goldstein reimagine space, testing the physical properties of the three-dimensional. Their investigations are archaeological, pulling out familiar forms to decipher meaning from ambiguity and pose questions. Like Fallon, Harel mines the psyche and the dark recesses of the mind, recapitulating the human head in distorted ways. She and Nathan both refer to ancient Greek and Roman mythology in their rendering and narratives. In contrast, Singleton relays truth-telling through his contemporary observations of everyday people and quotidian moments, while Santiago unearths ancestral memories drawing from his Afro-Carribean roots to tell lesser-known narratives.
Through observation of environment and human relationships as well as a study of the past, these artists create personal mythologies unique to their experiences.