Tuesday, July 8, 2014

‘The Garden of Eden in Midtown’

An exhibit underway at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City may be of interest to all manner of esotericists, students of symbology, and art lovers. “Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden” aims to serve “as a lens through which to view the relationship between humans and the natural world.”

Courtesy MOBIA.
Study for Expulsion by Fred Tomaselli.
Leaves, pills, acrylic, photo collage, and resin on wood panel, 2000.

From the publicity:

Artists in the Western world have used elements of the Garden of Eden story for centuries as potent symbols: the Creation of plants and animals, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, the Forbidden Fruit, the Serpent, the Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Eden. In this exhibition, contemporary artists continue to mine this rich resource for metaphors that are both personal and universal. Barnaby Furnas’s The Fruit Eaters takes the classic subject of Adam and Eve biting the apple, and renders it fresh and vital, with paint that seems to still be dripping, and a violent and malevolent serpent circling menacingly. Jim Dine’s Garden of Eden evokes happy childhood memories of his family’s tool store. Mark Dion, in a work created especially for this exhibition, presents a fantasy diorama of the serpent, imagining how he looked with legs, before he was cursed by God to crawl on his belly.

The garden has for centuries represented a perfect natural paradise that we have now lost. Several of the artists in the exhibition consider the ways in which humans have tried to recreate a “perfect garden.” Naomi Reis’ drawings of imaginary Modernist buildings are overlaid with lush plants and fountains that, like the Gardens of Babylon or the botanical gardens of Victorian times, show the attempt to recreate an exotic paradise within a completely foreign environment. In Lina Puerta’s installations, nature becomes the intruder, reinserting itself into the urban environment, intertwined with manmade sequins and buttons: a garden that is a mix of the natural and the manmade. Mary Temples garden appears as a shadow cast on a gallery wall, caused by light streaming through an imaginary window.

Courtesy MOBIA.
Dwarfed Blue Pine by Rona Pondick.
Painted bronze,
unique, 2009-10.

Courtesy MOBIA.
The Fruit Eaters by Barnaby Furnas.
Acrylic on linen, 2013.

Courtesy MOBIA.
Gowanus, by Alexis Rockman. Oil on wood, 2013. 

The exhibit will close September 28. MOBIA is located at 1865 Broadway (at 61st Street) in Manhattan. Admission is free. The museum is closed Mondays. A pretty remarkable schedule of free events in connection with Eden runs through the exhibit’s duration. Click here, and do take part. You won’t regret it. (I love this place.)

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