In an exhibition inspired by Sigmund Freud’s 1919 essay, titled Uncanny, artists Esther Janssen, Jeremy Olson, Heesoo Kim, Connor Marie Stankard and Leo Frontini present the familiar in unfamiliar contexts. Freud’s theory, which suggests that the strange cannot exist without the ordinary, drove the 20th-century Surrealist movement, pushing artists to explore their repressed feelings using dreams and their subconscious.
Delving into these themes, this exhibition evokes unease and introspection by revealing the surreal in daily moments. The artworks presented juxtapose the sterile and desolate with the exaggerated, resonating with contemporary anxieties and exploring memories that shape our current reality. Janssen’s pieces depict enchanting yet unsettling suburban scenes using artificial leather, implying human presence through overly cultivated surroundings and thus challenging our perceived control over nature.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based Olson has developed his practice to explore introspective, human-like monsters, drawing inspiration from Antonio Gramsci’s thoughts on historical transitions.
While Kim’s anonymous figures speak to the universality of human emotion, dramatically balanced humour with tragedy, Stankard uses fear as the starting point in her practice, referring to the figures in her work as “golems” and “creatures”.
Frontini’s work takes on a more subtle element of the uncanny, inviting the viewer into compositions that are imbued with tension and melancholy. These artworks emphasise that the uncanny, however unsettling, is a frequent presence in our lives. Destabilising the mundane, they remind us that the distinction between the familiar and the strange is often more porous than we might have imagined.
Connor Marie Stankard, Half Horse, 2022, oil on canvas, 61 x 91 cm
The Art021 fair is held at Shanghai Exhibition Center and runs from 9 – 12 November 2023. Unit London will hold their presentation at Booth Eo3.
61 x 45.72 cm
130 x 97 cm (framed)
soloing the ersatz lounge
91.4 x 76.2 cm
80 x 122 x 2.5 cm
Connor Marie Stankard
122 x 122 cm
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