9/6 – 9/11/23: SPRING/BREAK Art Show with 5-50 Gallery
Nianxin Li, Hannah Antalek, Adam Sorensen, & carrie R
On View: September 6 – 11
5-50 Gallery’s SPRING/BREAK booth features works by emerging artists Nianxin Li, Hannah Antalek, Adam Sorensen, and carrie R. Seemingly taken from the world of fiction, their wide-ranging subjects are united in their relation to contemporary life in both broad and specific terms. Nianxin Li’s playful figuration and still life hybrids, Hannah Antalek’s mystical and mythical gardenscapes, Adam Sorensen’s brightly colored, majestic landscapes and carrie R’s emotional, abstract sculptures are included in our booth. Displayed together, the work by these three artists evoke an optimistic, post-apocalyptic future.
Nianxin Li’s art represents personal calamity in the form of collective disorder within a family unit. Her practice begins with feelings of disconnection between the purpose and methods of her early education and family life. The works included in our booth investigate the possibility of various parts actively or passively staying in the same space, and they question the traditional framework of prioritizing familial relationships. Li subverts the traditional still-life genre by populating her compositions with atypical elements. There is tension in the steady plane; the objects rely on and guard against one another. Each creature shoulders different responsibilities and ignores itself. They twist and squeeze carefully to maintain balance, but behind the balance is the sinking ground, the bubble that is about to burst, and the life that is ignored. Though her images are streamlined, they are not simplified: multiple visual centers compete in her paintings, bright, toxic colors and neutral tones contend with one another, and various textures and painting techniques overlap. Such visual effects create a sense of division and confrontation, but with mutual checks and balances.
Hannah Antalek’s work explores an imaginary post-human landscape with roots in science fiction and environmental crisis. Her works feature plant forms that are an amalgamation of real and imagined botanicals that have undergone a hypothetical evolution in reaction to a changing world. In developing her own pseudo-scientific imagining of the future forest floor, the study of the resilience of fungi in the most devastating conditions has provided endless inspiration to her practice. She imagines the black plant forms in her drawings to have arisen from similarly inhospitable environments. Through these speculative scenes, her work questions not only the positive and negative implications of humanity’s impact on nature, but the capacity for adaptation and resilience across all life forms. With humankind’s natural predilection towards fatalism and apocalyptic end-time predictions, these works are a reminder of nature’s cyclical metamorphosis and the seasonality of change.
Landscape painting affords Adam Sorensen a wealth of tradition and influence, and provides a platform that seems familiar and recognizable. Nineteenth-century Romanticism, Japanese woodblock prints, and Abstract Expressionism all factor into his artistic vocabulary. By evoking these traditions, Sorensen’s paintings question the legacies of human creation, probing how the lessons of these former movements can be applied to contemporary art and, through his isolated subjects free of a human presence, their impermanence after the end of humanity. The scenes he composes function as both utopian and eerily post-apocalyptic, which can be seen metaphorically as social concerns in contemporary life. The utopian aspect of the works is a result of the whimsical color palette that is at once surprising and enchanting and the beauty of the scene. The eerie, post-apocalyptic feeling of the work comes from the complete lack of a human presence, and the reminder that everything that humanity is and has done will eventually fade. By inviting the viewer in visually, he asks them to recall where we have been, explore where we are now, and confront where we may be headed.
carrie R’s recent work includes free-standing and wall-based sculptures made in hydrostone and aquaresin with applications of pigment, marker, and oil color. Influenced by psychological fiction and domestic surroundings, the work references heightened emotional reactions to personal histories such as freak accidents and solitary moments. These works are vague expressions of the artist as obscure forms, appearing surreal and plant-like. Often biomorphic, her sculptures contain thematic elements of fear, solitude, self-preservation, and beauty. The organic quality and vibrancy of her sculptures relates to the works of the other artists included in the booth, but her works diverge from theirs due to their pointy and sharp features.
The distinct styles of Li, Antalek, Sorensen, and R beautifully complement each other through their creative reimaginings of real themes and visuals and their vibrant color palettes. Pairing these artists together results in a visually diverse and simultaneously unified curation. Each artist contends with ideas of apocalypse and calamity in their own way: Sorensen and Antalek more directly through the realization of their post-apocalyptic worlds, and Li and R through their presentations of personal calamity and collective disorder.