Divided Brain at LAVA Projects
Opening reception: Sunday November 11th from 4-8pm
Sunday November 11th to Sunday December 16th
LAVA Projects is located at 2417 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803
Ron Rege Jr.
Curated by Brian Cooper and Colin Roberts
“Divided Brain” is an exhibition of drawings, paintings, and sculpture by 15 Los Angeles artists, updating traditions of surreal and imaginative figuration and representation.
Among these artists’ many concerns, their work converges as a balancing act between two opposing impulses: one encompassing control, detail, and skill, the other embodying an odd sense of dark, unbridled imagination. For each of them, a sense of mastery must be challenged by the presence of something feral. At the same time, this unrestrained quality must be enhanced by some element of grace. This equilibrium could be interpreted as a simultaneous depiction of what is sure and of what is uncertain—a mirror of the two hemispheres of the brain.
In his 2012 book “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World,” Iain McGilchrist points out that the brain’s left hemisphere is concerned with the known, while the right hemisphere is focused on the unknown. One is a manager, the other an explorer. It is on the threshold between the two where a psychological “feeling of meaning” occurs.
Too much attention to the known world, and one becomes listless and oppressed by familiarity. Too much attention to the unknown, and chaos reigns.
The artists in the show approach this idea from diverse viewpoints. Some—like Susan Logoreci, Greg Ito, Brian Robertson, and Robyn O Neil—depict landscapes as semblances of psychic or symbolic spaces, tenuously connected to the physical world. Others, like Michael Alvarez and Wendell Gladstone, produce allegorical representations of the human figure, laced with subtle disruptions of normalcy and stable appearances. Still others, like Winnie Truong, incorporate the body into psychedelic arabesques, where hair and flesh are transformed into ornate filigree.
Many of these artists—like Jim Shaw, David Jien, Brian Cooper, and Colin Roberts—work with dreamlike imagery that veers into fantasy and myth, while retaining sublimated criticisms of our social order. Others, like Eric Beltz and Ron Rege Jr., explore idiosyncratic notions of spirituality and its complex, sometimes bizarre intersections with the secular. Still others, like Erik Frydenborg and Ben Jackel, produce sculptural objects that foreground handcraft, even as they hint at menacingly obscure technologies like hi-tech weaponry or mysterious alien devices.
In some ways, “Divided Brain” hints at our current state of political and cultural polarization. In generalized terms, good managers tend to be conservative, while good explorers tend to be liberal. This show may provide a modest symbolic pathway out of conflicts between left and right. Jonathan Haidt, in “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” writes about how we can borrow from eastern philosophies like Hinduism and Daoism to see that within a group, or even within one’s own mind, a balance between destroyer/creator, explorer/manager, must be reached to achieve a sincere sense of purpose and direction.