Beginning Tuesday, September 15th, Fort Gansevoort will present ‘Interiors,’ an online exhibition of drawings spanning the career of Gayleen Aiken (1934-2005), organized with artist Laurie Simmons. ‘Interiors’ focuses specifically upon
Beginning Tuesday, September 15th, Fort Gansevoort will present ‘Interiors,’ an online exhibition of drawings spanning the career of Gayleen Aiken (1934-2005), organized with artist Laurie Simmons. ‘Interiors’ focuses specifically upon Aiken’s drawings, which depict domestic scenes teeming with juvenile revelry and mischief. Although Aiken was not known to be mischievous herself, the artist’s deeper rebellious nature is revealed through the actions and expressions of her adolescent proxies. Never deferential, the Raimbilli Cousins are shown consistently reacting to situations with exuberant disobedience, defying the customary strictures placed upon children’s conduct. With its charming details and lively mien, Aiken’s oeuvre nevertheless also suggests that ominous undercurrents course through American rural life and small town communities. Her images convey an undeniable tension beneath the surface of Vermont’s sylvan landscape. Several drawings on view in ‘Interiors’ are explained by the artist’s hand-written musings, which contextualize the events taking place in her deceptively conventional, truly mythical world.
Some of the defining elements characteristic of American folk-art traditions are on view in Aiken’s portrayal of familial aesthetics. Here we see lovingly rendered depictions of furniture, clothing, and the accoutrement of special holiday celebrations familiar in the America of Aiken’s youth. Through these images, the artist has constructed a concurrent reality that can be understood as a documentary record of our complex human relationships to memory, nostalgia, and fantasy.
The visual vocabulary of Gayleen Aiken’s art finds fascinating parallels in the work of acclaimed contemporary photographer and filmmaker Laurie Simmons. Simmons holds a personal connection to the work on view, stating that it is reminiscent of her “childhood crayon drawings of girls in interiors.” She describes Aiken’s “invented world” as “both joyous and dark, fanciful and hyper real,” while also likening it to the artistic practice of Aline Kominski Crumb, Hollis Siegler, Morton Bartlett, Karen Yassinsky, Henry Darger, and Doris Lee. Both Aiken and Simmons present to the viewer an uncanny representation of the mundane that, upon examination, is equally critical and playful, raising questions about morality and conformity within suburban and rural life. ‘Interiors’ features brief meditations by Simmons upon specific selected works on view, exploring, from the perspective of a fellow traveler across time and art, the special resonances in Aiken’s work for a contemporary audience.
Courtesy of Fort Gansevoort.
September 15 (Tuesday) - October 24 (Saturday)
Fort Gansevoort New York
5 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY, 10014