In the universe that created the Southeast Queens Biennale in 2022, abstract art invited viewers to engage their imagination and consider the multiple realities conveyed by the seven participating artists through their distinctive visual languages.
The curator is artist Rejin Leys, a show titled Formationspresented works of art by Jean Foos, Vandana Jain, Jeanne Heifetz, Anton Kerkula, José Carlos Casad, Carl E. Hazlewood and Dominant Dansby at the York College Gallery of Fine Arts and the King Manor Museum.
“We decided to focus on abstraction to open up space for imagination and highlight how material or process can spur an entire project,” Leys said of the biennial’s third iteration, which recently closed after extending its duration until April 29.
As Leys noted, the similarities that emerged among the various works of art were particularly evident at York’s Gallery.
José Carlos Casado uses digital technologies and media to create installations and sculptures, among other works of art. His approach is an example of “sacrifice.vMeat” (2013), in which the reflection of a mirror is reminiscent of psychedelic alternative reality.
In his series R3-visi0n3DAnton Kerkula also uses technology, in this case, to transform his architectural photography into surrealist images that challenge viewers to re-examine the logic of architectural structures.
Dansby’s dominant abstract networks are inspired by the energy and improvisation of jazz. Collage networks of pieces such as “Interlude of constructed ideals or mannerism” (2015) explore textures and dimensions and show the importance that Dansby gives to the notion of the artistic process.
In a statement by artist Carl E. Hazlewood, he describes his intention to make “things that tend to be transient in reaction to the space and surfaces of the place.” The Biennale shows his “BlackHead Anansi Web” (2022), an abstract collage made up of organic shapes and airy lines.
In her series PreoccupiedJeanne Heifetz faces her fear of death and offers layered drawings based on maps of various Jewish cemeteries, including those where her relatives are buried.
Jean Foos and Vandana Jain collect and transform discarded material, creating images that suggest rituals. Foos’ tower-like sculpture “A convulsive beauty in a bar with a fur tea cup” (2022) evokes a totem, while Jain’s works provide a burst of energy, lifting ordinary objects, such as brooms or ropes, into striking art objects to create pieces like Love is Love ”(2020).
The poetic sense of the materials unites the artists of the show, as well as the stories and ideas they express.
“One thing I realized, watching the play and installing it … is that although the pieces are different in the processes and things that artists think about, there is continuity in terms of how they approach the materials,” said Nicholas Fraser, Director of the Gallery of Fine Arts. York College.
At the King Manor Museum, contemporary works have established a provocative and almost transgressive dialogue with the historical structure.
Like its previous editions, the Biennale served as a geographical and cultural bridge between the arts and the surrounding Southeast Queens community. “The Biennale was established to bring more cultural visual arts programs to Southeast Queens and to bring greater visibility to our artists and places,” Leys explained.
IN Formationsthe curator’s aspiration for the community to experience and be challenged by the work of different artists has been realized, offering new perspectives on abstract art and its symbolic power.