Door into the Dark

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Door into the Dark

Mar 6 — Apr 24, 2021

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Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to announce Door into the Dark, a group exhibition presented in the gallery space with an expanded selection of works viewable online. The title is taken from the Seamus Heaney poem “The Forge” (published 1969), a musing on the creative labor of an ironworker through the eyes of an onlooker peering through a portal into the dark interior of a workshop.

While a doorway can be an oculus to look through, it can also be an entry point to the unknown, or an invitation towards transformation. The collection of works in this exhibition, spanning multiple mediums, explore ideas of sacred space and contested spaces, questioning the imperfections inherent in those labels as neither sacredness nor safety are universal. The artists included in the exhibition present cosmic realms, commune with ancestors, forge passageways, and honor the natural world – each welcoming the unfamiliar.

Dawoud Bey’s series Night Coming Tenderly, Black gives us an imagined viewpoint of fugitive enslaved people traveling north to freedom under the cover of night. The large-scale dark photographic prints present the landscape as a passageway to freedom, though vast and foreboding. Using dye, graphite, powders and chalk, Sydney Cain investigates genealogy, spirituality, and ideas of the Black afterlife.

Leiko Ikemura and Oliver Lee Jackson both invite us into other realms in their work, and the effect is at once disorienting and electrifying, more elements revealing themselves the longer we spend in these foreign worlds.

Featuring work by: Ansel Adams, Dawoud Bey, Sydney Cain, Jonathan Calm, Peter Dean, T.J. Dedeaux-Norris, Rupert Garcia, Diane Andrews Hall, Doug Hall, Winslow Homer, Leiko Ikemura, Oliver Lee Jackson, Eirik Johnson, Hung Liu, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Margaret Nielsen, Joachim Patinir, Tjumpo Tjapanangka, & Henry Wessel

All I know is a door into the dark.
Outside, old axles and iron hoops rusting;
Inside, the hammered anvil’s short-pitched ring,
The unpredictable fantail of sparks
Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.
The anvil must be somewhere in the centre,
Horned as a unicorn, at one end and square,
Set there immoveable: an altar
Where he expends himself in shape and music.
Sometimes, leather-aproned, hairs in his nose,
He leans out on the jamb, recalls a clatter
Of hoofs where traffic is flashing in rows;
Then grunts and goes in, with a slam and flick
To beat real iron out, to work the bellows.

[Seamus Heaney]

Leiko Ikemura. Zarathustra ll — 2014, pigment on jute, 74 3/4 x 114 1/4 in.