'Chaos and Awe' Exhibition Explores 21st Century Notions of the Sublime

  • NORFOLK, Virginia
  • /
  • September 25, 2018

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Matthew Ritchie (b. 1964, London; based in New York) Monstrance, 2014 Single-channel video installation Courtesy of the artist © Matthew Ritchie

The Chrysler Museum of Art will present a sweeping survey of contemporary art from around the world with Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century. Organized by Frist Art Museum’s Chief Curator Mark Scala, the exhibition celebrates painting’s capacity to weave together images of physical reality, memories, emotions and the virtual world. The exhibition will be on view from Nov. 16, 2018 to April 28, 2019.

 Artists in the exhibition dramatically describe the destabilizing effects of current forces such as globalism, mass migration, radical ideologies and the rapid expansion of technology. These forces are so powerful that they can cause fright or excitement with the promise of new human possibilities.  Chaos and Awe’s thesis stems from the 18th century philosophical idea of the sublime, feeling overwhelmed by the immeasurable nature of God and the natural world.

“Audiences who visit Chaos and Awe will be introduced to an incredible number of international artists. Many of these artists are major figures within contemporary art in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America, and their works rarely come to the Hampton Roads area,” said Kimberli Gant, Ph.D., the Chrysler’s McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.  “Moreover, visitors will see breathtaking paintings. These works have real visceral power and intense social commentary.”

Jiha Moon (b. 1973, Daegu, South Korea; based in Atlanta) Pied de grue, 2012 Ink and acrylic, fabric, and embroidery patches on hanji (mulberry paper) Courtesy of the artist, Curator’s Office, Washington, DC. © Jiha Moon

Organized in seven sections, the exhibition begins with No Place, a meditation on complex systems such as international finance and communications technologies. While they connect people around the world, they also open doors to cybercrime and fake news. Paintings in Shadows and Collisions express the unease, fear and feelings of fragmentation and loss in response to racism, nationalism and conflicting belief systems. Interzone explores the anxieties, pleasures and new perspectives as cultures come together in vibrant cross-fertilization.

Ghada Amer (b. 1963, Cairo; based in New York) Reza Farkhondeh (b. 1963, Iran; based in New York and Paris)Revolution 2.0-RFGA, 2011 Embroidery and gel medium on canvas Collection of Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, New York © Ghada Amer. Photo: Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

Virtuality relates to the impact of the digital age, in which the boundaries between reality and cyberspace become increasingly undefinable. Paintings in The Boundless depict fleeting phenomena such as atmosphere, fluid and smoke as symbols of the uncontainable vastness of the human imagination. The exhibition concludes with Everything, where works convey the deep thirst for worldviews that can accommodate multiple understandings, including links across cosmos.

The profound nature of the subject matter, paired with the masterly technique on display, may overwhelm, disturb and thrill audiences. These reactions affirm the enduring ability of painting to communicate nascent and often unnamable ideas, emotions and sensations.

Artists in Chaos and Awe include: Ahmed Alsoudani, Ghada Amer, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Radcliffe Bailey, Ali Banisadr, Pedro Barbeito, Jeremy Blake, Matti Braun, Dean Byington, Hamlett Dobbins, Nogah Engler, Anoka Faruqee, Barnaby Furnas, Ellen Gallagher, Wayne Gonzales, Wade Guyton, Rokni Haerizadeh, Peter Halley, Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Rashid Johnson, Guillermo Kuitca, Heather Gwen Martin, Jiha Moon, Wangechi Mutu, James Perrin, Matthew Ritchie, Rachel Rossin, Pat Steir, Barbara Takenaga, Dannielle Tegeder, Kazuki Umezawa, Charline von Heyl, Sarah Walker, Corinne Wasmuht and Sue Williams.

Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century was organized by the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee. This exhibition is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.


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