Chicago artists’ group exhibition explores identity, beauty, and materiality through figurative and ornamental mixed media works.
One After 909 is delighted to showcase work by Cindy Bernhard, Phyllis Bramson, and Hale Ekinci in Serious Vanity. At first glance, the materiality of their art practices is apparent in each stitch, sequin, and scrap of fabric used to form their works. Beneath this vibrant surface is a shared interest in domestic spaces, and critiques of beauty conventions that are personal to each artist.
Bernhard’s mixed media paintings playfully combine imagery from pop culture, party decor, beauty products, and lifestyle blogs. By rendering these contemporary references in her signature Rococo influenced style, Bernhard both highlights and criticizes their superficiality. The confectionary use of oil paint, applied like frosting using pastry tools, is a technique she picked up while baking with her mother at home as a child.
Likewise the decorative Rococo and Chinoiserie style of Bramson’s pieces are also colored by her childhood upbringing—her parent’s were avid collectors of alternative and erotic art, much of it Oriental. Using her personal biography Bramson creates a visual language that sardonically twists together imagery from various points in art history and culture. Within her fabricated worlds fairytales unfold but are unresolved, and are not as wholesome as we may believe.
Ekinci’s body of work is similarly centered around family history. Photographs from her Turkish heritage and her American husband’s family are transferred onto domestic fabrics, such as bedsheets. She then adds paint and embroidery over the faces and bodies of the figures, playing with representations of beauty and identity. Humor is injected into the scenes through cultural and gendered symbols like papal garments and party hats.
While the work presented in Serious Vanity seduces with their spangled surfaces, closer contemplation reveals complexities that are as rich as the ornamentation.
Phyllis Bramson, Insolent Lovers, it’s a Human Condition, 2017, Mixed media on canvas, 66 × 54 inches