Installation view, Verne Dawson, Aerialists, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2003–2004
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present “Aerialists,” an exhibition comprising the new works of the American artist, Verne Dawson.
Born in Alabama in 1961, Verne Dawson now lives and works in both New York and Wayne County, Pennsylvania. A cursory examination of his paintings initially yields images oft-depicted in seemingly traditional art: landscapes, still life, verdure, animal, and human life. Dawson’s works appear to be of a vernacular spirit, reflecting a world seemingly remote and disparate from our own. This initial impression is transient, however, closer scrutiny reveals more to discover. Most fascinating for the viewer are those images depicting prehistoric — and yet at times, strikingly futuristic — cultures, and those paintings recounting historical personalities and events. Indeed, Dawson employs his artistry in large part to underscore the existence and continuation of prehistory within contemporary life and history.
The “Aerialists” are trapeze artists who follow ancient traditions, flying at lofty heights to captivate the onlooking masses. With this central painting of those graceful figures, Dawson allows us to enter consciously the world of the circus, which endures as a metaphor for the visible universe. For Dawson, the circus, like the rodeo and bullfight, is one of the best-preserved manifestations of prehistory and myth. The great, round circus tent becomes a stage of mythological theatre; its performers represent the heavenly constellations: in attendance are the lions, bulls, the great bear, the virgins. Each individual’s separate experience taps into and simultaneously contributes to a collective, human experience, for the circus serves as a sort of chain extending through time, from humankind’s earliest beginnings to the present day. This inherent, collective experience endures yet in a world in which many realms are seemingly dominated by electronic and technological media.