PUBLIC Gallery is proud to present REALMS OF THE (UN) REAL, a solo exhibition of new works by Emma Fineman. The works featured in the exhibition explore various realms of ontological space, be they physical, remembered, eternal, dream-like or fetishistic; all existing within a world void of temporal constraints.
Anchored around an expansive horizontal triptych in the centre of the gallery, Fineman’s creations hang scattered on either side, revealing in mate windows into the artists mind - reoccurring dreams, fetishized desires and vast imagined psychological spaces. Within these fantastical settings the figures, for the most part self-portraits, are rendered as dwindling visages neither present nor absent, seemingly at the intersection of existence.
Fineman’s works explore methods to fracture and reconfigure pictorial space, as a means to describe and digest the dense compression and spacialization of me in contemporary culture. In our moment, we are inundated with visual information that renders our ability to understand and process experience, as well as our sense of me and perspective, haphazard if not indeed skewed. Fineman’s works contemplate what happens to narrative under such conditions and examines the possibilities of figurative painting to both extend and compress descriptive me within this framework.
The exhibition’s title alludes to The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, a multi-volume fantasy manuscript and body of illustrations produced over several decades by the reclusive artist Henry Darger (1892-1973). Like Darger, Fineman’s sources lay deep in her memory and in that unknowable region of the psyche where yearning, aspiration and an expressive impulse reside. However, Fineman’s paintings go beyond pure fantasy, instead depicting realms of eternity that blur our traditional conceptions of what is real and unreal, mirroring our increasingly distorted experience of contemporary life.
Belonging to a realm unto themselves, Fineman’s paintings become a space to contemplate and to reflect. Her internal desires are played out in a series of expressive and gestural marks that sit somewhere between drawing and painting; somewhere between the quick note to jot down an idea, and a more prolonged medita tion on the parts of daily life that for some unknowable reason affix themselves to back of one’s mind and kick about with an unnerving permanence.