Since the beginning of time and across cultures, the tradition of figurative art has woven a complex tapestry for humanity, placing the body at the center of diverse artistic practices. Through myriads of representations we continue to discover ourselves and others, expanding our understanding of what brings us all together. In the Flesh, the third exhibition of the Emerge | Converge™ annual cycle, explores the work of iconic and emerging international artists, who reflect on how the body can tell yet another story about the current human condition.
We bring together living artists who place the body at the center of their artistic practice. Each of them embraces the figure, taking us on different journeys that question the long-standing artistic tradition that nurtures them, engaging with the body in ways that better echo the spirit of the times. Some of the artists in the exhibition revisit the myths that continue to define us as human, connecting us through ancestral archetypes. Indebted to Surrealism, they infuse old tales with new meanings, adding their voices to ancient conversations. They give us new heroes and heroines to see, new mythologies to re-enchant the world.
Inspired by more recent movements, another group of artists shows us that the plurality of the modernist tradition is still alive and well. They choose to revisit the tension between abstraction and figuration to address issues of identity, otherness, and community. No longer satisfied by following the traditional codes of portraiture, their works make us stop and contemplate the human figure in a different way. They confront us with more intimate and personal views: an abstract painting becomes an homage to the changing colors of the human skin, a series of random figures feels like portraits of people we know, the fragment of a body tells us more than its whole.
In an environment saturated with images, where the limits between real and virtual, natural and artificial are constantly challenged, a third group of artists embraces this uncertainty. They create hybrid creatures, using a mix of elements to reveal alternative identities. They confront us with the human and non-human, questioning our place in the universe and our relationship with nature.
In the Flesh presents art and artists that ponder how we inhabit the world and relate to each other through our bodies, our skin being the ultimate threshold. They look at the past yet ground us firmly in the present, a moment when we are intensely aware of the frail balance between the powerful and vulnerable physicality involved in the act of living.