BY INES VALENCIA
As we step into 2021, most of us continue to experience feelings of exhaustion after a year of social isolation and a complete lifestyle change. The world has changed for everyone, and the art community has been hit especially hard. Many artists have been expressing these emotions through their works. In Situ at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, a group exhibition titled In Situ features brand new paintings by thirteen incredible contemporary artists. The works reflect different experiences and reactions to living in isolation in 2020.
The participating artists’ list is impressive and includes Cecily Brown, Olivia Erlanger, Barnaby Furnas, Jammie Holmes, Forrest Kirk, YoYo Lander, Maud Madsen, Chidinma Nnoli, Collins Obijiaku, Celeste Rapone, Lorna Robertson, Eleanor Swordy, and Michaela Yearwood-Dan. As a point of departure, the exhibition uses Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” (an important early work of American feminist literature that shows how women were treated in the nineteenth century regarding their health and look.) The selection of paintings, all created throughout 2020, focus on the concept of isolation and living secluded from the rest of the world “as necessitated by the current health crisis – private and still, yet restless and resolute,” as stated in the press release.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” consists of journal entries from a woman whose husband rents an old mansion and forces her to be confined to one room. She eats well, gets plenty of air, and is on bed rest so that she can recuperate from what is called a “temporary nervous depression,” a common diagnosis for women in the nineteenth century. During her isolation, her thoughts become consumed by the yellow wallpaper that surrounds her. The gallery states that: “In Situ responds to this sentiment as the presented artists aptly pull inspiration from their surroundings, embodying the tension between the safety of physical isolation and an urgency in the present moment to act and connect.” The artists’ different styles and techniques explore one common theme, one we are all too familiar with at the moment.
The show is in two parts that occur on different dates, at two locations. From January 7, 2021 – February 6, 2021, the featured artists’ works are on view at the gallery’s New York location. Another selection of paintings is shown at its Aspen, CO location from January 22, 2021 – February 28, 2021.
Numerous resources for In Situ are available on the gallery’s website, including images of the works and installation views. We can expect many more amazing artworks to come out of this period of confinement, since to many, it has served as a time of reflection and inspiration within oneself and one’s surroundings (although it has also been harmful in many ways.) As we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, this is an excellent opportunity to appreciate the fantastic art created during this period.