Projet Pangée is pleased to present The Far Off Blue Places by Anjuli Rathod (New York) and Vanessa Brown (Vancouver). This exhibition brings together two artists who manifest different versions of a disembodied dream narrative. Evolving from the surreal, their works pry at the abstraction of the everyday through phantasmagoric mythologies of lived experience. Rathod through painting, and Brown through sculpture, create pieces that delve between the material worlds, drawing on the physical nature of gesture to elucidate the intimacy of creation.
Rathod’s paintings result from the surrealist process of automatic drawing, which allows her to link directly to her unconscious through memory and self-examination. Coarse, uneven, stylized brushstrokes pull us into a dream narrative, carving distance from realism. Her particular combination of animate subject (even where the inanimate is concerned), brushstroke and colour palette refers us, as the viewer, elsewhere: somewhere which is, as of yet, undefined, and which, more definitely, does not exist solely in the plane of the conscious. Such intentional disconnect roots in Rathod’s interest in diasporic identities, something she tackles through a use of elliptic imagery and animism of space when language is rendered ineffectual.
Brown’s sculptures move between the familiar and the abstract, finding liminal space in the everyday. Using metal, she works with multiple flat steel pieces that begin on a singular plane and move to a third dimension as they are assembled. She recreates objects and forms that frequent her subconscious to set the stage for dramatic narratives of things that have just occurred. In her own words, she contradicts the machinery (both literal and figurative) of metalwork, finding herself “oppositely drawn” to ways in which she can think through her hands. The resulting pieces become amorphous; perspectives that shift significantly as we move between them, each object a fragment of an unknown history.
Both series activate planes across all possible narratives; each artist’s work takes on new conversational tropes in context of the other. Brown’s sculptures evolve from their origins to occupy new and perhaps even unintentional paradigms by the time they are complete, while Rathod’s paintings draw narrative loops between characters that are initially unconnected, allowing a story to emerge from the process. For both artists, such processes imbue their works with aspects of the surreal, categorically shifting through time as they become tangible in space.
Together the paintings and sculptures hint at intertwining stories: the perfume bottle, the hand, and the orange of Brown’s sculpture draft a scene that might be as dark as it is light; the spider, snake, keys, and question marks in Rathod’s painting accumulate symbols of nightmarish experience which present in contrast to the metallic reflections of the sculptures. Feelings equally sinister and emancipatory are conjured by formal elements evoking beauty. It is these exploratory shapes, the curved, reflective surface of worked metal, colour, and the childlike, which move together in an intimate convergence of impressionistic dream referential.
Vanessa Brown is based in Vancouver on unceded Coast Salish Territories. She received a BFA from Emily Carr University in 2013 and was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award. She has exhibited in Canada, Germany, the USA, and Mexico, notably with solo and two-person exhibitions at Wil Aballe Art Projects (Vancouver), Erin Stump Projects (Toronto) and group exhibitions at the Nanaimo Art Gallery (Nanaimo), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin) and King Street Station (Seattle).
Anjuli Rathod lives and works in Queens, New York. She received a BFA from School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and attended the AICAD/New York Studio Residency Program. She has participated in residencies at The Millay Colony of the Arts, the Studios at MASS MoCA and the Shandanken Project. Her work has been published in Lumina Journal and Hyperallergic. She also co-founded Selena, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. She has an upcoming exhibition at the Knockdown Center (Queens).