When Portland painter Srijon Chowdhury was invited to current a solo exhibition on the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, he requested himself, “what’s the best kind of museum show an artist could have?” His reply: “a retrospective.” Endeavoring to create the impact of a profession survey together with his first-ever museum exhibition, he produced a collection of latest mural-size work on panel incorporating a lot of the imagery that has appeared in his work during the last decade.
The Frye present, titled “Same Old Song,” doesn’t embrace any of his older work, however moderately glimpses of previous works within the type of motifs—issues like morning glories, devils, angels, and knives. In creating the exhibition, the Bangladesh-born artist got here to see these painted quotations as a sort of self-portraiture, so he literalized the idea: six of the works spotlight his personal facial options, all at huge scale and in excessive close-up. “It turns the exhibition space into the inside of my head,” he instructed me throughout a studio go to.
Each of those six research has one gigantic characteristic that, on nearer inspection, abounds with allusions to Chowdhury’s symbolic vocabulary. Measuring a towering 10-and-a-half by 6 toes every, the 5 adjoined oil-on-linen panels that comprise Mouth (Divine Dance), 2022, induce a way of envelopment. The inside of the mouth is a hellscape, with flayed and skeletal figures dancing round a hearth, imagery reprised from a piece Chowdhury painted as a hex towards Donald Trump through the 2020 election. Surrounding the mouth, within the creases of the lips, about 150 figures from Chowdhury’s prior works are faintly rendered, like petroglyphs marking earlier civilizations.
The rigidity between epiphany and thriller stay an inspiration to Chowdhury. His 2017 exhibition “Revelation Theater” on the Art Gym at Marylhurst University in Oregonevoked the Book of Revelations, a Biblical collection of visions representing the tribulations and closing judgments that await saint and sinner alike. For “Memory Theater” in 2016, a present at Upfor Gallery in Portland, Chowdhury reimagined Sixteenth-century thinker Giulio Camillo’s proposed architectural construction, whose bodily reminders of all of the world’s essential ideas promised the viewer omniscience. These concepts of sacred imaginative and prescient and prognostication seem once more within the 2022 works within the type of divine messengers delivering succor and retribution. “I’m always going back to something,” he mentioned. “I wanted to have ‘Revelation Theater’ and ‘Memory Theater’ in this show.”
Other panels depict among the recurring motifs in Chowdhury’s illustrative oeuvre, together with the morning glory and knife that change the pupil and iris of Eye (Morning Glory), 2022. Both objects seem in a number of work made between 2018 and 2021—works that, for Chowdhury, allude to the skinny veil that divides the on a regular basis from the unknown.
The artist’s attribute gestures embrace quite a few art historic influences. The shell of the precise ear in Ear (Good), 2022, holds a Blakean angel slaying a shadowy, semitransparent satan bearing a Francis-Bacon-style melted face. These references hyperlink Chowdhury to artists who’ve grappled with magnificence and terror, exploring their ethical expressions by producing works which can be anchored to the actual but broaden into the surreal. He sees these allegorical representations as a approach to answer up to date circumstances: “In a moment when everything constantly seems awful everywhere in the world, I feel like the worst thing I can do is stop caring,” including, “the modern world began with the symbol, and now we’re at the end of modernity. Symbolism is a good way to bookend that time.”