Goodman Gallery presents Battlecry, an exhibition of large-scale paintings on wood panel which marks Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum's first solo exhibition with Goodman Gallery. The exhibition follows Sunstrum's first major museum show at Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, US.
Battlecry explores Sunstrum's interest in archetypes originating in classical mythology, which the artist translates into a cast of characters and alter egos that recur throughout her practice.
Sunstrum nuances these mythological archetypes with a focus on 'the hero': 'In this latest body of work, I am interested in the fragility of the hero; the ways in which the hero is both heroic and anti-heroic; both a victor and a perpetrator who can experience violence but also cause violence. I am interested in the moment when the hero, despite being on the field of battle, cannot help but become soft, must go inward, must cry.'
Sunstrum layers visual information using pencil and oil paint to create imagery that exists as a rich 'collection of citations—building a code into the meaning of the work'. These citations include (post)-colonial portraiture as well as intertextual conversations with art historical works, such as Robert S. Duncanson's early 19th century romanticist landscape paintings. These references are further enriched by Sunstrum's experiences with nature and science, encompassing a developing journey of self-discovery:
'I like thinking of all forms of knowledge-seeking-systems—the so-called "hard sciences" as well as cosmological, spiritual and mythical belief systems—in a non-hierarchical way and enjoy finding moments of coincidence between them. I think about contemporary theories in genetics; I think about ancestral archives; I think about shamanistic portals; I think about quantum physics; I think about divination; I think about bodies; I think about love. Being devoted to any one of these notions requires a certain leap of faith. I try to imagine how these leaps may allow us to confront hierarchies of power, or may generate new ways of gathering our story'
Press release courtesy Goodman Gallery.