The Kravets Wehby Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Jamais Vu, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Stan Narten, opening on Saturday February 22nd and running through March 22nd, 2014.
Jamais Vu, meaning “never seen”, is often described as the opposite of déjà vu. It is an eerie distortion of memory characterized by the illusion that the familiar is being encountered for the first time. With his most recent body of work Stan Narten presents a series of canvases stemming their sources from seventeenthcentury Century European still life painting.
For Narten, deceitful eyes and the aging mind are the arbiters of human experience; images and memories are increasingly distorted over time. The paintings in this series serve as a visual manifestation of this decay. Building from the direct symbolism of the still life genre, Narten uses complex visual and psychological associations to create a new allegory. The didactic and materialist values of the historical works become re-contextualized into enigmatic paintings that are both open-ended and highly intentional.
In The Flight into Egypt (based on Pieter Aertsen’s Butcher’s Stall), the eye of a cow stares out from a lumpy fog of animal parts. The elements in the painting battle for attention and destroy the original composition. The piece refuses narrative, and it favors fragments over the whole.
Other references in the exhibition include Jan Weenix’s game paintings, Otto Marseus van Schrieck’s Sottobosco “underbrush”, and Juan de Arellano’s heaping bouquets of flowers.
Each image cannibalizes and purges itself to generate a new composition, creating a “confusion of impressions” that is akin to the experience of Jamais Vu. Through his use of Old Master techniques and subject matter, Narten creates paintings that glimmer with a sense of historical familiarity. This confusion presents a nauseating reality that is simultaneously fuzzy and sharp. In these works, Stan Narten re-invigorates the still life genre in order to initiate a modern psychological discourse of memory and experience.