Southern Gothic: Dark Fantasy from Portland

Art Opening: Friday, February 8 from 6 – 9:30pm
Showing through Friday, March 1

Southern Gothic presents the work of five female artists from Portland, whose works reveal a phantasmagoric world caught between fairytale and nightmare. Lea Barozzi, Lesley Reppetaux, Kalina Torino, Heidi Elise Wirz and Kendra Binney paint lissome, sloe-eyed beauties who journey unafraid through places steeped in myth, symbolism and danger.

Fairytale imagery plays a key role in all of these fantastical visions. Lea Barozzi’s luminous gamines shine against a backdrop of twilit blue, their haunting eyes appearing to follow viewers from within the canvas. Painted in cool colors, Barozzi’s small vignettes contain mysterious iconography: sinuous striped tentacles, ghostly dark-eyed dogs, shy red fawns, and mounds of tiny skulls. Lesley Reppetaux’s acrylic on board paintings are scenes plucked from lost myths, rife with menacing creatures, spirit helpers, and not-so-innocent maidens who explore the wild in their skivvies. Rich jewel tones, a strong sense of humor and inspiration from world mythology mark the work of painter Kalina Torino. Whether they are pudgy mermaids, cutie-pie woodland nymphs, or tricksy sprites, Torino’s lively characters invite the viewer to enter a world bursting with mischief and play.

Palimpsest plays a strong role in the work of Heidi Elise Wirz and Kendra Binney. Wirz brings letters, symbols and words to her dense, graffiti-like compositions, surrounding her central figures in a nimbus. These characters often emit looping, twisting strings which signify hurt, physical ailment, hope or apology. Binney creates landscapes that layer the realistic—using photorealistic imagery of ships, homes, buildings or landmarks—under dripping washes of pastel. Atop these are sketches of animals and wraith-like women, combining to create a feverish dream-scape that is by turns familiar and utterly mysterious.