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March 27 – May 5, 2024

Featuring works by Adam de Boer, Adam Linn, Ákos Ezer, Amir H. Fallah, Benny Or, Charlie Roberts, Cindy Bernhard, Deborah Brown, Erik Nieminen, Everette Ball, Gosha Levochkin, Ian Ha, Jaemin Bae, Jean Nagai, Kaylie Kaitschuck, Katya Muromtseva, Laura Sanders, Margaret Curtis, Mathew F. Fisher, Mathew Tom, Maude Corriveau, Michael Igwe, Shuto Okayasu, Stipan Tadić, Xiao Wang and Yesiyu Zhao.

Cementing its mission of promoting intercultural dialogue, PLATO inaugurates its program with Double Vision, a group exhibition spanning works by 25 artists who see the world through the eyes of the other. The first iteration of the show will open with a reception on Wednesday, March 27, from 6–8pm at the gallery’s new nearly 3,000 sq. ft. home at 202 Bowery, followed by the second part of the exhibition in May. 

Artists view their environment through particular prisms, but mixed cultural heritage can add layers of complexity—as well as complications—to one’s vision and sense of belonging. Second generation Americans Adam de Boer, Mathew Tom and Jean Nagai oscillate between modes of expression commonly found in Asian and Western arts and crafts. LA-based Adam De Boer learned his preferred technique of batik in Java, the homeland of his Dutch-Indonesian father. His scenes of Los Angeles resemble South-East Asian landscapes. Mathew Tom’s choice of characters and compositions marries Korean minhwa painting, Japanese woodblock prints and Tibetan thangkas with Disney aesthetics. Like many artists in his parents’ native Japan, Seattle-born, LA-based Jean Nagai collaborates with nature, incorporating pumice and mushroom spores in his dotted paintings, while not shunning away from more conventional, industrially made materials such as acrylic paint and whiteout.

Both Gosha Levochkin and Amir H. Fallah immigrated to Los Angeles as children – Gosha from his native Russia and Amir from Iran. With the rise and fall of empires close to home for both, these artists are interested in the modes in which images are disseminated across cultures and used for both transmission and distortion of information. 

Hungarian Ákos Ezer and Croatian Stipan Tadic are not strangers to the dichotomy between East and West and to the merging of culture and state ideology. Their characters oscillate between the past and the present, and between memory and reverie. American Charlie Roberts, who currently lives in Oslo, similarly portrays his Scandinavian protagonists in a pensive in-betweenness, surrounded by mirrors, windows and paintings – possible portals to other worlds. Katya Muromtseva, a recent US transplant from Moscow, is familiar with such portals. The artist employs the fluid medium of watercolor to depict immigrant journeys. She conducts soulful, in-depth interviews with her subjects, doubling as a confidant, an interpreter, a journalist and a storyteller. 

Japanese artist Shuto Okayasu, Korean painter Ian Ha, a first generation Chinese-Canadian Benny Or, and a long-time US resident from China Xiao Wang, all based in New York, channel nostalgia and melancholy through reduced color palettes and dream-like atmospheres where past and present, East and West, and fantasy and reality coexist. 

Double vision is a given for those at the intersection of cultures and identities, but it can also be an acquired skill. Deborah Brown’s relocation within New York City inspired a deeper exploration of its diverse micro-communities, expanding the art historical canon of how the city and its dwellers are portrayed in painting. 

One doesn’t have to be a multihyphenate to possess a double vision. When voracious consumerism, environmental pollution and the ever-changing theater of politics become overwhelming, the language of print illustrations, cartoons and child-like fascination with the universe’s mysteries provide an escape to an alternative reality. Cindy Bernhard’s enigmatic day-glo tableaus counter the absurdity of the gray everyday. Matthew F. Fisher’s archetypal imagery of shorelines and celestial objects anchor his viewers in the serenity of the present moment. Kaylie Kaitschuck’s tapestries, innovatively stitched on an industrial sewing machine, burst with colorful seas of man-made and natural objects in a non-judgmental agglomeration that frees our overloaded psyches. 

Escapism in the surreal is sometimes an elusive goal. Maude Corriveau’s old master-like still-lifes painted in hues that appear digital bely the artist’s anxiety over climate change: their classical drapery hides planet-polluting plastic objects underneath. The seeming innocence of Laura Sanders’ female protagonists surrounded by nature is counterbalanced by knowing glances and subtle references pointing to the environmental doom overshadowing their future. 

Could AI’s vision be considered double, combining human and machine’s ability to process images? Montreal-based Erik Nieminen has a gift for invoking both. His cinematic paintings put the viewer in the position of the other watching a scene from a reality that appears familiar and yet completely alien, merging the current times with those before and after Homo sapiens’ rule over planet Earth. 

A sense of loneliness and the uncanny also permeates Adam Linn’s, Michael Igwe’s and Yesiyu Zhao’s works, revealing an environment in which queer desire can only be suggested rather than freely expressed. American Adam Linn veils it in mundane and utilitarian objects, such as mailboxes and boots. The lonely figure painted by Nigerian Michael Igwe is a presence so ethereal that it is as likely to denote an absence. Brooklyn-based Chinese artist’s Yesiyu Zhao’s intertwined sailors occupy an in-between state of travelers at sea. One is a gruesome actor with sullenly lowered eyes while the other— a youth with an expression of hope and resolve.

New York-based Everette Ball, who identifies as having a developmental disability, presents a vision of the world that is uncompromisingly optimistic—the sky is always blue, the grass is green and every object has a personality. With a similar optimism, Margaret Curtis’ expansive scene of a mother and child’s post-apocalyptic survival hints at a belated bright future for the artist herself. A singular voice, she had to move away from the major art center at the height of her career in order to tend to her family. After persevering through years of relative obscurity she triumphantly reemerges in New York with a major masterpiece dedicated to hope and survival. 

“Double Vision” as a medical condition multiplies everything one sees by two, making it harder to navigate the day-to-day. Yet on the level of culture, identity and belonging it can offer multiple perspectives, expanding our capacity for empathy and compassion. Ultimately, a sense of otherness, permanent or temporary, is unavoidable for anyone with a physical body, so why not admit the fact that being different is what we all have in common and let our double visions lead us to acceptance and peace with ourselves and others? 

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