The External Eye: Yana Bystrova and Paula Henderson

Opening: Friday, Feb 21, 2020 6 – 9 pm
Friday, Feb 21 – May 15, 2020

2320 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

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This exhibition brings together two artists engaged with color and the manner in which its inherent properties – hue, value, saturation, intensity for example, offer a vehicle for understanding the outside world. This is not to say color is the only visual element at play, but employed as the primary element with which to draw the viewer’s attention – the first glance. Once there, in front of the artwork/painting, we look more carefully – following how each color is contained by lines, then shifts with light upon it, and then, we notice perhaps with what shapes each artist defined/created their form. Why did the artist make these choices, for what purpose? 

Yana Bystrova and Paula Henderson present two varying pathways for approaching abstraction in painting. Bystrova seeks answers to larger philosophical questions about how cultural context and perceptions of reality shape our understanding of the world we live in. As a Ukrainian artist living in Paris for almost three decades, she is keenly aware of the impact of the surrounding environment and, to that end, offers a ‘sampling’ - of landscapes, nature, organic elements using the traditional practice of en plein-airor painting outdoors. Their immediate, fresh, less calculated expression could be said to both embrace the phenomenon of ambiguity, and offer a mechanism for overcoming it, by focusing on the painting’s formal elements.

Henderson concentrates on social constructs and traditions of representation. Her series Groundwork(s)operates at the intersection of formal abstraction and social engagement, by developing patterns from the soles of shoes, encountered while walking. Found universally, on the sidewalk, imprinted into the earth, for example, their temporary existence is a reminder of change through space and time, if not hieroglyphics of our collective history. Additional works puzzle the social impact of representations of women’s bodies in commercial media. As personal narratives and identities are invited to be shaped by the promotion of desire and allure, how much do they truly distract from a truthful representation of the self and, how much do we invest in our own objectification?

Image: Yana Bystrova, Rubic’s Cube, 2018, acrylic on canvas