VOCABULARIES OF METAPHOR: MORE STORIES: Crystal Liu, Liliana Porter, Amy Cutler, Henry Darger, Seonna Hong, Baseera Khan, Fay Ku, Ruth Marten, Rob Matthews, Charlotte Schulz, Shahzia Sikander, Sara Stites, Rachell Sumpter, Yuka Yamaguchi, Yelena Yemchuk


Vocabularies of Metaphor is an exhibition of works on paper by fifteen international artists exploring narrative through symbolic vernacular. The visual language of each artist is highly personal and lyrical. The stories, which are also original to the artists, are coded and may be interpreted in many ways.


The artists’ (and curator’s) choice of exploring the intimacy of drawing/painting on paper gives the viewer a voyeuristic glimpse into private moments. And the presentation of a series of works by each artist enables the viewer to observe mutating idioms and to decipher the lexicons of personal expression.


Amy Cutler meticulously renders enigmatic characters engaged in inexplicable activities. Surreal and fantastic, they have the character — playful yet menacing — of age-old fairy tales.


Fay Ku subverts the Edo Period tradition of ukiyo-e — pictures of the floating world — to produce ethereal but anxiety-ridden images of child-women precariously inhabiting a place between myth and reality.


Trained as a miniaturist in her native country, Pakistan, Shahzia Sikander combines cultural iconography from Islam, Hinduism and the West with her own musings about identity and transience.


Ruth Marten draws on antique etchings. Literally. The etchings, often of scientific subjects, are of dubious accuracy. Marten’s interventions further propel the imagery toward the fantastic, though where one leaves off and the other begins is not easy to discern. Like a child’s game of ‘telephone,’ or the Surrealists’ ‘exquisite corpse,’ the process yields delightful perversity.


For Liliana Porter, the found object constitutes a vocabulary. Her mixed media works join three-dimensional objects to a two-dimensional surface to create witty and poignant vignettes.


Yuka Yamaguchi’s delicate colored-pencil drawings are often surreal self-portraits of her emotional existence — like if Frida Kahlo made manga.


In Ukranian-born Yelena Yemchuk’s watercolor paintings, ordinary people find themselves in extraordinary situations. The roots are in Eastern European folklore, but the vision is in the vein of Hieronymus Bosch. These could be illustrations for Bulgakov’s ‘The Master and Margarita’ — but they’re too weird.


Rachell Sumpter’s atmospheric gouache and pastel works reference documentary photography while they hint at the sublime. Dwarfed by the Northern expanses they populate, her characters intently engage in purposeful activity. Could it be ritual? When does habit overtake reason? These fables may or may not have happy endings.


Other artists in the exhibition include: Henry Darger, Rob Matthews, Sara Stites, Charlotte Schulz, Seonna Hong, Baseera Khan, Crystal Liu.