Studio Art Centers International Gallery is currently hosting Re-Imagining the Antique, an exhibition by Scottish artist Carole Robb, who is based in New York City.
Running until November 3, Re-Imagining the Antique reflects on the power of human relations through the iconic affair of Helen of Troy and Paris. Their passionate collision triggered an epic war, demolishing cities, lives, rationality and history. The mythic love affair was rediscovered by the artist during one of her recurrent stays in the British School at Rome, and she set the scene in Rome after reading fictitious letters of the swirling couple in Ovid’s Heroides.
The resulting works are technically controversial. The show focuses on the activity of painting a subject and on paint as matter. Watercolor is an unlikely means of monumental art and has unusual relevance to the nature of human relations: the medium demands swiftness of execution, just as relationships do, jumping into existence in one moment and fading out in the heat of another.
Space opens up to break chronology in the compositions. The episodes are organized not by time, but by pictorial frames, reshuffling the puzzle and calling the viewer to assemble them in a different way. Time breaks within the frames as it breaks within relationships.
A featured work of the exhibition, The Hades Express, depicts Helen and Paris sharing a final embrace at an iconic modern location: the train station, a place where anyone can witness the countless ways humans relate to one another.
27 centuries after the Trojan War, there is still an immediate emotional connection to the main characters and their love story. While love can be a noble experience, the artist suggests that the narrative of Helen and Paris is not a noble one, but one of desire-fueled passion. Are we truly in control of our relationships? The exhibition asks us to acknowledge how inevitably we relate and how, equally inevitably, we bear the consequences.
Carole Robb: Re-Imagining the Antique Until November 6, 2015
Studio Art Centers International (SACI) Gallery
Palazzo dei Cartelloni, via Sant’Antonino, 11, Florence
Carole Robb is the Artistic Director of the Rome Art Program, a past winner of the Rome Art Prize in Painting and a member of the National Academy in New York. Her works are housed in several major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. For further information on Robb, visit her website.