Dune Alpin | East Hampton, NY
Aug 19, 2022
I Sing the Body Electric | Curated by Alexander DiJulio and Nio Vardan | August 19 - September 26, 2022
DIJULIOVARDAN Project—the curatorial venture of Alexander DiJulio and Nio Vardan--announce their inaugural exhibition, I Sing the Body Electric. This show presents the work of 22 artists who each portray their own unique concepts of the body and what it means to embrace all bodies in this current day and age.
Inspired by the landmark poem, I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman from his 1855 poetry compilation, Leaves of Grass, DiJulio and Vardan display a breadth of artists who offer unique portrayals of the body in varying levels of realism and entendre. As Whitman had the foresight to ask almost 200 years ago: “And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?” DiJulio and Vardan pull from a wide network of both established and emerging talent unified under one roof of a historic polo barn in the heart of East Hampton, New York, leaning into the nature of the location and the space with only minor alterations and activations. Straw, water pumps and barn doors abound.The show features paintings, photographs, sculptures and textiles by recognizable names such as Matthew Stone, Zachari Logan, Tommy Kha and Shantell Martin contrasted by the rising stars of emerging artists such as Scott Csoke, Bhasha Chakrabarti and Matt Smoak. Hailing from a variety of locations from Brooklyn to Belgium, one understated but relevant unifier for those exhibiting is an embracement of a queer identity; an LGBTQ+ perspective of otherness that spans well beyond gender and sexuality. Despite the rainbows that enshroud the rosy cheeked cherubic figure and their tiny dog in Scott Csoke’s baroque endebted portrait, or the forlorn young man sitting between the nude backsides of two male figures as is portrayed by John Brooks, the majority of the works in the show take a much more understated approach.A photo by Tommy Kha—an installation in Brooklyn of cut-out prints of the artist’s hands displayed amongst a rocky coastline—displayed beside a hand-burned canvas by Cole Lu depicting images of antique wood blocks, take a more nuanced presentation of the human form. Co-curator of the exhibition, Nio Vardan displays a nostalgic image of a child neck-deep in the ocean gazing out towards the sunset, situated amongst other photographs like those by Austrian-Nigerian artist David Uzochukwu and humanitarian photographer Raphael Chatelain.Several self-portraits such as the dual canvases of recent Yale MFA grad Bhasha Chakrabarti (which feature a dyptich representation of the artist and her mother) and the doubled, self embracing canvas from Jordan Ramsey Ismaiel take a realist approach to figuration. The emerging talents of Wes Aderhold, J. Carino and Kan Seidel reference surrealism and abstraction, reducing figures to cartoon like effigies tumbling through rural landscapes and domestic spaces.
The sculptural elements introduced to the exhibition through the terracotta hands of Italian-British Giovanni Leonardo Bassan, mirror based installation of Matt Smoak and the handbuilt concrete response to the gilded frame of yore which surrounds the dream-like canvas of Chelsea Culprit, bring a much needed departure of art from the wall. This notion is perpetuated by the sculpto-painting of Joseph Parra, a canvas—whose squeezed from the tube image reveals itself only from a distance as the torso of a male figure—and the image of a dark-skinned mermaid by Nereida Patricia, comprised of heaps of seed beads, paint and glitter.The approach to Dune Alpin—fledgling exhibition space—takes the visitor past vast open pastures and abandoned grain silos and into a handsome (if not understated) turn of the century building with soaring eaves and plentiful natural light due to skylights installed above. Artworks are hung on drywall and on barn doors like those of Juan Arango Palacios and from the ceiling as with the quilted painting of Tura Oliveira, embracing the spirit of the space.