Ambiguous Figures, Pentimenti
Emily Weiner, AMBIGUOUS FIGURES
Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia
May 2–June 10, 2023
Pentimenti Gallery is excited to present a solo exhibition featuring the paintings by Emily Weiner. The paintings on view present a series of symbols and geometries that play with the relationships between figure and ground, form and function, and gravity and levity.
The title of this exhibition is borrowed from the psychological term
ambiguous figure—an image that may be interpreted in more than one way, as the viewer’s perception alternates between figure and ground. The most famous example of this is Rubin’s vase (a reversible image that is either seen as a vase or two faces). Like Weiner’s paintings, this stock picture maintains a paradox: While its distinct parts are stable and recognizable, its interpretation at any one moment is in flux.
Weiner’s paintings look to theater as a parallel space of suspended disbelief, drawing symbolism from Yiddish theater, Greek drama, Commedia dell'arte, and music. Her paintings—oil on linen in ceramic frames—examine how images are shared and translated across generations and individuals. Emily’s work raises a series of partially unanswered questions: What role has visual culture played in shaping our perception of the world? Why have certain materials been championed in the history of art, while others—particularly those associated with women's work such as ceramics—have been relegated to the realm of craft? How can materials and symbols be reordered and reframed to transcend the rigid stories of our canons?
Weiner’s investigation into archetypal imagery is informed in part by Carl Jung's theories of the collective unconscious. By working an extended period of time in many layers of paint, she finds synchronicity in combinations of forms. She constructs ceramic frames for each painting through a similar process, elevating the frame's importance from a secondary status of ornamentation to a vital part of the artwork. Her paintings aim to consider familiar icons by piecing together an unfamiliar combination of materials through a feminist lens.
Emily Weiner (b. Brooklyn, 1981) received her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including Red Arrow Gallery, Nashville, TN; Whitespace Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Kunsthall Grenland, Porsgrunn, Norway; Wespace, Shanghai, China; Gerdarsafn Museum, Kopavogur, Iceland; LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY; and many more. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Artnet. In 2022, she was awarded the Hopper Prize Winner and in 2021, the Tri-Star Arts Current Art Fund Recipient, Award Administered by Tri-Star Arts as Regional Regranting and the Program Partner of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
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