Greenwood Street Project
April 14- May 27 2016
This installation of new paintings by Adrienne Gaha provides opportunity to interrogate the artist’s practice by pulling back to reveal a singular event and zooming into explore emotive molecules of this larger tableau.
The title 'Snake Dance’ incorporates both serious risk taking in order to gain an advantage and, a slightly saucy, kitsch representation of what we perceive as dangerous or sexy. The Hopi Indians danced with snakes and risked their venom and charms in order to send them as intermediaries to the rain gods. At the other end of the spectrum you have early 20th century eastern bodice ripper movies. See Debra Paget’s snake dance in Fritz Lang’s “The Indian Tomb”, or the more recent and ironic, “From Dusk till Dawn”, where Salma Hayak also does a snake dance.
There is opportunity in the expansion and fragmentation of the source material, Titian’s “Diana and Actaeon” at the core. We are free to flirt, ogle and cosset the characters and their properties. This openness to voyeurism brings the viewer into the enveloping sensuality of the fixed gaze. However the rendering of detail, erasures and veils are Gaha’s own provocations to the viewer entering the pictorial space. In her own words “As in the things we find most alien to both our own sense of our selves and our culture, I am curious about our fascination with the dangers and/or rewards we perceive will come from taking it on and attempts to neutralize its seductive power.”
The group of paintings, each investigates detail and mood, each worked richly, sketchily, abstractly in turn but always lush and painterly. The group builds to explore the textures and enticements of a total mise en scène. While Gaha paints figuratively, she “is interested in the point where the paint hovers on the edge of being descriptive of both the image and its own materiality.”
In a broader sense the “Snake Dance” is a metaphor for Gaha’s approach to painting - a kind of subjective vs analytical toing and froing. It is a solitary activity that is also meant to communicate to an audience an act that is also shifting and in motion. To make the decision that the painting is finished requires a constant refocusing and the transformation of an image be it hers or someone else’s and so extends the range of footwork required.
Detail 'Bacchus and Ariadne' [after Titian],
oil on linen, 123cmx 97cm, 2016