SANDRA CHEVRIER –The Cages; and the Reading Rooms of their Lives
SEAN MAHAN – Rendered Problematic
By Julie Faith
Thinkspace Gallery – 6009 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
Through November 5, 2016
SANDRA CHEVRIER – sandrachevrier.com
Sandra Chevrier’s The Cages; and the Reading Rooms of their Lives, at Thinkspace is absolutely spectacular. Her dynamic masked women are, without question, exquisitely rendered and infused with emotion. Using painted and collaged superhero imagery to create the masks or ‘cages’ as she calls them, on the face of each woman, Chevrier creates a testament to the feminine struggle between expectation and reality.
“I am often choosing to highlight the fragility of the superhero, their own struggles, and weaknesses, exposing the humanity within the superhuman. Despite all the playfulness of the thing itself and all the “CRASH BAM POW,” superheroes are also fragile. There is also a certain melancholy in these different faces as if these women experienced a situation that they did not wish. As if they were “slaves.” An offset of American comics, synonymous to entertainment and fun. This is exactly the goal of the series, a daily struggle for us all against that which is imposed by society and the very expectations we impose on ourselves.” – Sandra Chevrier
Chevrier’s message is evident in the impossibly clear eyes of every woman and in her respective mask. Defiance in the face of adversity is palpable in La Cage Et Ceux Qui Restent Debout. La Cage Et Le Son Du Tambour marches to the beat of her own drum, as reflected in the piercing gaze behind her engraved, wooden veil. Several large scale paintings, La Cage Et La Courage, La Cage, Ici!, and La Cage, Cet Endroit est ta Demure, all implore you to spend time contemplating their various temperaments. But perhaps most revealing, both literally and figuratively, are the smaller, perfectly crafted wooden boxes, each with it’s own interchangeable, reversible sliding mask – one side reflecting one emotion, the other side a whole ‘nother sensibility.
The work is stunning, simply gorgeous. There really is no other way to describe it. I came away from the show contemplating, in particular, Chevrier’s emotionally charged masks. Superheroes spend all of their time saving the world, often at their own expense. But at their very best, they inspire and provide models of coping with adversity, triumph over struggle, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering strength and using it for good. There is something about their vulnerability in the face of danger, evil, and personal shortcomings, that help us accept and transcend our own. In that spirit we are all heros.
“What is it, to be a hero? Look in the mirror and you’ll know. Look into your own eyes and tell me you are not heroic, that you have not endured, or suffered… or lost the things you care about most. And yet, here you are… a survivor…Because a hero isn’t someone who lives above us, keeping us safe. A hero is not a god or an idea. A hero lives here… on the street, among us, with us. Always here but rarely recognized. Look in the mirror and see yourself for what you truly are…”” Karen Page, Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix) season 2 episode 13
Of Note: In collaboration with Thinkspace and Branded Arts, and as a companion piece to this show, Chevrier completed her first California mural, “La Cage Toujour” at the corner of Vermont and 25th. Make sure you catch it.
SEAN MAHAN – seanmahanart.com
Also on view at Thinkspace is Sean Mahan’s Rendered Problematic. Mahan is a social realist figurative painter who works with graphite and acrylic washes on wood to depict a sense of wonder about the innate warmth of the human character and its conflict with structures of power and control. His charming images resonate the sweet wholesomeness of days gone by. They suggest simpler times before the internet and social media blurred the lines of innocence.
Mahan’s palette is soft, tranquil, and dreamy. Graceful children captured mid-thought are pictured with vintage objects, a radio, a mixing bowl, a sewing machine to convey an air of nostalgia but also beg the question: are we possessed by our possessions or do they, in fact, possess us?
“In “rendered problematic” I’m exploring the relationship of the subject and their objects, how we form our identities around objects. We identify with things we own and allow that identity to be shaped for us. There is a mediation in our identity formation, a control and direction imposed…I also wanted to present objects in a way so that they become the real subject of the painting. A subject/object reversal of sorts, suggesting how we objectify each other, make each other instrumental, and how we romanticize the objects we buy.” – Sean Mahan
Sandra Chevrier – The Cages; and the Reading Rooms of their Lives and Sean Mahan – Rendered Problematic remain on view at Thinkspace through November 5th, 2016.