Offline at Central Booking Gallery

Apr. 25, 2024 - May. 1, 2014

21 Ludlow St.
New York, New York 10002

Afterimage | Meghan Allynn Johnson & E. Thurston Belmer
Curatorial Statement by Eileen G’sell

Afterimage, an exhibition of paintings, collages, and video work by E. Thurston Belmer and Meghan Allynn Johnson, opens at Central Booking Gallery on Friday, April 25. Plumbing the depths of art history, film, and news archives, Afterimage considers the consequences of looking and “reading” an image. Where we do we latch on to what is human and intimate in what seems a posed or scripted set of circumstances? What about images prompt or complicate traditional narratives?

A cast of contemporary characters dominate E. Thurston Belmer’s mammoth oil paintings in vivid yet shadowy media res, as though restaging a tale by Edgar Allan Poe were it set in a New York third-floor walk-up. Doppelgangers loom, tableware glistens, and curtains fold into sensuous veils tenderly blocking exterior light. A masterly hand mutates the domus into a space both disquieting and alien. Belmer’s grave figures confront us head on. Supine, erect, or balanced in between, they are daringly vulnerable— at once lustrous and cloaked in darkness, perfectly poised and hauntingly real.

Meghan Allynn Johnson’s restrained, black-and-white paintings and collages explore a different human vulnerability. Amidst a scene of catastrophe, overt black paint strokes collide with evidence of scraping or erasure—effectively rubbing off or redact the “drama” of whatever historical conflict or literal crash was originally depicted. News clippings, historical photos, and television stills are brusquely, but carefully, distorted; anonymous figures blur into the gessoed white ground. Johnson’s resulting images recall the fragility of early film, the rudimentary outlines magically transmitted from celluloid to screen.

Belmer and Johnson engage a sweeping range of influences—from the exultant throes of the medieval Renaissance, to the luminous pull of Caravaggio, to the seductive mimeses of film and photography and the raw urgency of punk. At stake is the aftermath of past and present: what we see with our eyes that is paradoxically always and never new.

Copyright © 2014 Meghan Allynn Johnson, All rights reserved.
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