Challenging the Status Quo, SVA Illustration Alumni Draw Inspiration from the Dreamlike Symbolist Tradition of the Late 19th Century

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Paintings by Buscara, Jean, Harrison, Maku, Twitchell and others are showcased in “The Pond, the Mirror, the Kaleidoscope: Contemporary Figuration Through a Symbolist Lens," August 20 - September 14

Rachel Pontious, Bouquet, on view in "The Pond, the Mirror, the Kaleidoscope" at SVA

Today’s neo-Symbolists make art that is arguably eccentric, intellectually surprising, brimming with visions of the world as it is—or how it could be.

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “The Pond, the Mirror, the Kaleidoscope: Contemporary Figuration Through a Symbolist Lens,” an exhibition of emerging and established painters who graduated from SVA and are working in the Symbolist tradition. These “neo-Symbolists” make mythological and dreamlike pictures that challenge prevailing assumptions about narrative, subjectivity and figurative painting itself.

As the exhibition title suggests, subjects may be environmental (“the Pond”), societal and cultural (“the Mirror”), or a post-apocalyptic, futuristic mash-up (“the Kaleidoscope”).

The exhibition is curated by Thomas Woodruff, chair of the BFA Illustration and Cartooning Department, and features work by alumni of that program as well as the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department, which is chaired by Marshall Arisman.

“Like the Symbolists, today’s neo-Symbolists are arguably eccentric and obsessive, and they use low-tech methods to tell new stories to new audiences,” says Woodruff. “They make art that is intellectually surprising, brimming with visions of the world as it is—or how it could be. And like the Symbolists, they are sometimes dismissed as ‘mere illustrators’ because they work in a figurative tradition.”

More than 30 paintings, drawings and sculptures are on view at the Visual Arts Gallery in New York City from August 20 through September 14. Exhibiting artists are SVA alumni from the BFA Illustration or MFA Illustration of Visual Essay departments: Jean-Pierre Arboleda, James Bascara, George Boorujy, Michael Combs, TM Davy, Steve Ellis, Scott Harrison, James Jean, Mark Lang, Sakura Maku, Alison Moritsugu, Timothy Okamura, Mu Pan, Matt Panuska, Rachel Pontious, Lane Twitchell, Martin Wittfooth, and Jason Yarmosky.

The Visual Arts Gallery is located at 601 West 26 Street in New York City. A reception will be held on Wednesday, September 11, 6:00 – 8:00pm.

School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers, and creative professionals for more than six decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, dynamic curriculum, and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Comprised of more than 6,000 students at its Manhattan campus and 35,000 alumni in 100 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College’s 31 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, visit sva.edu.

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Lisa Batchelder
School of Visual Arts
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