In distinction from the material world

Shihori Yamamoto. Bloom (04/26/2019, Spring Insomnia) 2019, ink on paper, 30 in. x 22 in.

Cuchifritos Gallery and Residency Unlimited are pleased to present their ninth annual collaboration, In distinction from the material world, featuring new work from artists Sebastian Burger, Arghavan Khosravi, Zita Schüpferling, Serge Serum, and Shihori Yamamoto.

Though distinct in their practices, each artist’s work negotiates the complex boundaries between an interior reality and the tangible world. Rendering the surreal, disembodied, and imperceptible, the work on view transforms fiction into a direct experience of the present.

Sebastian Burger explores the integrity of the human body, its physicalness and the construction of identity through materiality and surfaces in his painting practice. Often described as sediments of meaning derived from a multitude of references, Burger’s work looks back at its observers drawing them in with delicate textures and gradients, while creating distance through the harshness of shapes, forms, and colors.

Arghavan Khosravi grounds her practice in her perspective as an Iranian now living in the U.S. Having witnessed her country’s transformation from a Western-friendly monarchy into a suppressive theocratic republic, Khosravi recasts childhood memories to demonstrate paradoxes embedded within the tensions between her public life, adhering to Islamic Law, and the freedoms of her private life. Influenced by Persian miniature painting, Khosravi complicates the picture with traditional Islamic motifs and surrealist and contemporary visual metaphors that relate to themes of freedom of expression, power dynamics, and self-censorship. This blending of past and present, religious and secular, reality and fantasy, is representative of her deeply felt psychological tension.

In her site-responsive situational and architectural interventions, Zita Schüpferling transforms the space of the audience through performance, subtle intrusion, or the manipulation of form. On the evening of the exhibition opening, Schüpferling has arranged for there to be visitors among the visitors, who are playing visitors. As with much of her recent work, the performance is staged to evade conscious perception; a constructed reality intended to embed itself into the surrounding atmosphere. Indistinguishable from the real, the image of the piece only occurs in the viewer’s imagination.

Serge Serum portrays different personas and identities rooted in past traumas, lingering memories and the vices of human behavior. Employing an extensive layering process, Serum’s mixed-media portraiture and figurative paintings reveal heavy textures and delicate details. What ultimately becomes a palimpsest of writing and overwriting, Serum’s paintings serve as a metaphor for the struggles and frustrations that lay dormant beneath his experiences; scars hiding just below the surface.

Shihori Yamaoto’s work explores the complexity of human emotions through the fragile, yet remarkably beautiful, moments found in daily life. From delightful laughter to dreadful sorrows, her meditative work transcends verbal constraints, poetically asking viewers to share and embrace the graceful simplicity of their emotional experiences. Her work distances the audience from everyday aggressions and confusions, instead focusing on the universality of the human condition. As if a diary, Yamamoto’s Bloom series documents the artist’s relationship with her surroundings over time. Using intricate brush strokes reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy, her compositions of flowers, branches, blood vessels, synapses, and scars attempt to convey the potential of direct communication without the use of words.

Artists Alliance Inc. is 501c3 not for profit organization located on the Lower East Side of New York City within the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. Cuchifritos Gallery is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Cuchifritos Gallery programming is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc for their continued support. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers and interns, without whom this program would not be possible.