In the big book of of trite, ancient cliches, the idea that "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" might be one of the most important ones we've got. It challenges us in ways that go against the grain of society, family, friends, etc. It's the kind of sentiment that allows to admire and respect things that should seem strange, frightening or foreign to us: twin skeletons in a loving embrace, death, oil pumps, the Virgin Mary covered in bees. In centuries past, an artists' choice to use such images and present them to the public would have been pretty risky. And in a sense maybe they still are.
Starting tomorrow at 7p.m., Hibbleton Gallery opens a new exhibition titled "Digging for Fire", with a collection of works by Chris Peters and William Zdan. According to Hibbleton's introduction of the gallery, the title of their newest installation is interpreted to mean "looking for trouble...or inspiration". And as you scan the techniques and themes of Peters and Zdan, who both trade in the art of Lowbrow surrealism, you see that much of their work forces you examine aspects of everyday life that you may indeed find troubling.
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For Peters, whose artistic themes are heavily centered around the precarious nature of death, the symbolism of using skeletons in life-like poses takes cues from both Catholic religious imagery and Vanitas style-paintings that originated sometime in the 16th century. According to Peters, they are meant to convey ideas about "the cycle of life, death and the promise of resurrection".
Zdan, another up-and-coming local artist, is also known to capture a bit of religous and industrial symbolism in his work, though his style incorporates oil pumps instead of skeletons. Combining tongue-in-cheeck humor with sentiments of protest and dream-like imagery surrounding man's industrious nature, Zdan's art is a constant clash of classical style and modern cultrual references.
You can check out both artists' work at the Digging for Fire exhibition, which will be running at Hibbleton from Sep. 4-27. Entry is free. And in case you're interested, check out what the Hibbleton crew has to say about the exhibit right HERE.