With the world in an unusual era with society changing rapidly in regards to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is calming to have a means of expressing one’s emotions regarding these events. It is also calming to view something that perfectly surmises the emotions that people share with the work’s creator regarding these events.
The artists on view this September in three exhibitions at the Galatea Fine Art gallery, located in Boston’s SoWa District, have used their art as a means of expressing the different emotions regarding society’s current need for its citizens to distance themselves from each other.
Emotions in regards to the divided climate of today’s society are primarily shown in Jo-Ann Boback’s “An Enigma,” an oil/mixed media on canvas piece work that uses graffiti-like markings to depict two figures next to each other. This piece, and the rest of Boback’s work, is presented in “Seen, Unseen, Not Forgotten,” an exhibition she shares with Joe Caruso.
The show’s promotional material noted that, “Boback paints with intensity and passion. She brings you into her world of emotions and the uncertainties and variabilities of daily life with the energy and rhythm in her work.”
Boback’s style of painting utilizes a lot of energy to depict the uncertainty of life. She described “An Enigma” as representing the mystery of the human person and the mystery of the relationships between people. She has described this sense in regards to her work with her perspective on present society. “The world for me at least seems to be a bit of a mystery. You don’t recognize certain things the way you thought you knew them so well.” This shows how she is trying to evoke the mystery of when society will be able to be as close to one another as the two figures in the artwork are.
Joe Caruso’s work makes connections between the modern world and the past of human civilization in order to show the artist’s perspective on the future. This is shown in his piece “PM/AM (Prehistoric Man/Artificial Man),” of which he said, “I’m really trying to show where we come from and where we’re going.”
Caruso used various materials to create an image reminiscent of the cave paintings that were recently discovered in the Amazon rainforest in Colombia. On the left-hand side of the piece is a depiction of a pile of skulls that are based off of a tower of skulls that was discovered underground behind the metropolitan cathedral in Mexico City. These aspects show how the piece is depicting the past of human civilization.
The right-hand side of the artwork depicts the idea of a “post-human.” It shows a being with artificially advanced body parts that is surrounded by different App symbols to compare with the symbols in the cave painting that inspired this piece. This shows how society is moving to a point where its citizens are becoming less human with more material in our bodies planning to be artificial.
The Galatea Fine Art gallery’s depiction of attitudes towards the modern world through depicting the past doesn’t just stop here.
Deniz Ozan-George also expresses the questioning of human closeness, but in a different way. “Playing with Fire,” the title to her solo exhibition, is fitting due to how her artwork is done in encaustic with shellac burn.
Her work was done in encaustic in order to emphasize the desire that she had for warmth and human closeness in her time being isolated from people in the months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fifth piece of her “In the Garden” series shows this sense of warmth that the artist desired through the way that it contains shades of red that transition towards shades of orange, yellow and white in a way that is reminiscent of a fire or a sunset.
“In the Garden 5” describes more than just the artist’s desire for warmth during the pandemic. The show’s description noted, “As Deniz emerged from the pandemic winter of 2021, she was overwhelmed by a desire for warmth and the sight of lush growing things.”
This describes how the artist’s work was also inspired by her sight of life growing at an abundant rate at the end of the pandemic winter of 2021. “In the Garden 5” is a fitting name for how the artist’s work is used to depict this abundance of life she saw. These two aspects that inspired the work also helped her create some very beautiful pieces that are intriguing to see in person, as one can get a clear view of the texture of the pieces.
“Hopscotch,” works created by Marsha Nouritza Odabashian and Jennifer Jean Okumura in collaboration with poets Celeste Nazeli Snowber and Nancy Agabian, was designed to bring the viewer back to wonderful moments of the past, but also towards hopeful moments for the future. The description of the artwork for this show says, “This exhibition plays hopscotch on “our” culture by mimicking the sense of passing through geographical areas or fields of endeavor.”
The piece that started the whole show is Odabashian’a acrylic paint on canvas piece “Hopscotch,” which was recreated from a 1994 piece. It depicts a hopscotch grid with an arrangement of stones throughout the image and uses red on both sides of the piece to draw the viewer in. Red is also used in this piece, because red is described as a color that represents love. This depicts how hopscotch is a game of love.
This Friday, September 24 at 7 p.m., Artscope publisher Kaveh Mojtabai will moderate an “expansive and poetic and visual online performance featuring the lyrical talents of poets Celeste Nazeli Snowber and Nancy Agabian together with visual artists Marsha Nouritza Odabashian and Jennifer Jean Okumura. For tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hopscotch-a-poetic-performance-tickets-167465356389.)
Ultimately, all of the pieces currently on view at Galatea Fine Art depict the attitudes towards society’s current circumstances in very unique ways.
(“Marsha Nouritza Odabashian & Jennifer Jean Okumura: Hopscotch”; “Jo-Ann Boback & Joseph Caruso: Seen, Unseen, Not Forgotten”; and “Deniz Ozan-George: Playing with Fire” remain on view through September 26 at Galatea Fine Arts, 460 Harrison Ave., B-6, Boston, Massachusetts; the gallery is open Friday through Sunday from noon-4 p.m. and by appointment.)