Sunday, September 7, 2008

Camille Rose Garcia - Ambien Somnambulants


This weekend Camille Rose Garcia opened her newest awe-inspiring show (can you tell we like her?). At Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York, Ambien Somnabulants made it's debut featuring some of Ms. Garcia's favorite imagery with brighter, more vibrant colors than usual, and a new theme. The paintings in this show hint at a world with a sleepwalking populace dulled into complacency by monolithic corporate giants. This takes place against a backdrop of a dissolving environment, a theme Ms. Garcia has explored recently.

In Ambien Somnambulants, tragic sleepwalkers wander along beautifully bleak post-apocalyptic dreamscapes, inspiring dissent from a dire dystopia. Garcia’s stunningly subversive images expand upon her signature style of elaborate socio-political narratives, hidden beneath layers of fairy-tale charm. The artist creates human and animal characters, influenced by a vintage animation aesthetic, which aid in her epic visual storytelling, rendered in a palette of psychedelic color, glitter, and glazed-over collaged wallpaper. Her use of bright color serves as a visual distraction from painful realities, while her use of silver leaf as a decorative element, references an age of abundance and opulence, slightly tarnished to represent the twilight years of our civilization.

Ambien, the sleeping pill, is used as a metaphor for our sedated populace being controlled by corporate empires such as the pharmaceutical industry, while the world crumbles around us. The complacency of our culture and lack of outrage over the current state of affairs (loss of liberties, soaring national debt, and depleting natural resources) form central themes, told in a series of disjointed tableaux, in which the artist describes how “a powerful witch delivers apples poisoned with sleep elixir to the ambien somnambulents, a sleepwalking army of fancy dressed revelers, innocent and content in their dream world of complete denial.” With the absence of sustainable capitalism and renewable energy sources, our self-destructive society sinks deeper into its own demise, controlled by fear and distraction through fantasy propaganda and escapism. World catastrophes both environmental and military, threaten even the most privileged of lives, as over-population and overindulgence lead to an inevitable fate of gloom and global disorder.

Couldn't have put it any better ourselves.

These paintings are among the most beautiful of Ms. Garcia's remarkable oeuvre, and assuredly more beautiful in person than here. She typically uses gold and silver leaf in her paintings, creating a layered, rich look that is impossible to see in a digital image. If you get a chance and you're in New York, don't miss this in person.





Camille Rose Garcia's "Ambien Somnambulants" at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

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