The Orphic Dance & Persephone's Eyes of Water / by Sam Abelow


PRESS RELEASE by Azarian McCullough Gallery

Samuel Abelow: The Orphic Dance and Persephone's Eyes of Water

September 4 - September 27th, 2019

Curated by Timothy Hull

The Azarian McCullough Gallery at St Thomas Aquinas College is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Samuel Abelow titled The Orphic Dance and Persephone's Eyes of Water. This body of work examines the complex psychological, romantic and spiritual relationship of Orpheus and Persephone. Through oil painting and various media, Abelow uncovers universal archetypal truths revealed through the creative process.

The paintings are colorful and play with lyrical shapes, classical and exotic patterns that dance within malleable borders of the picture plane and imagery of mythic characters. In the course of exploring ancient myths and their variations across the timelines of historical culture, Abelow has developed central themes or characters which have colors, patterns, sounds, and so forth. Each meditation on "Orpheus," or "Persephone" (as well as the others in his purview) are not just a personal intrigue, but become the catalyst for vibrant multicultural conversation in a public forum.

Abelow’s work is rooted as much in painting as it is in a deep inner probing of religion, philosophy, psychology, politics, and history. Particularly, his work is of specific concern to psychology. There is a breadth of literature and material from across the arts that focuses on Orpheus and Persephone. It is with these through-lines that he explores the connections between political liberalism and postmodern philosophy, science and technology, psychoanalysis and world religions, as well as art and art history.

This evocative work opens us to many questions about the human condition with various conclusions. One such conclusion might be: we all live mythic images. The work reveals that understanding life mythically and imaginatively provides for rich meaning and purpose.

Samuel Abelow lives and works in Easton, Connecticut. This is his first solo exhibition.




The Origins Art Practice

Artist Statement for Fall 2019

Samuel Abelow, August 6, 2019

In my art practice, there is an ongoing development of a coloristic, symbolic, mythic, psychological and multicultural codex, which is fluid and intuitive, expressed in multimedia, and yet appears to be reaching towards increasing “objectivity” — a sense of clarity.

Poetic themes are explored in the history of traditional painting medium and thought, sound as craft and the composition of music, dance, gesture and costume, pattern, design and architecture, history, cultural comparison and mythological material, psychoanalysis and the rational mind.

The focus of the thematic content (at least according to the titles) may at first be observed to be specifically Greek — Aphrodite, Dionysus, Persephone, Orpheus, etc. But, these characters extend out of a deeper understanding of ancient multiculturalism and the roots that spread across the continents. This includes ancient regions across the Mediterranean, into the near east and Africa. My inquiry reaches as far as India. It is in the ancient mystic practices found in such historical places — for instance the esoteric yogic traditions — that I refer to when I include the name “Dionysus,” for example.

All of the various names, these personified gods and goddesses, which the ancients used to describe psychological experiences, are so universal that they are found, for example, in the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.

The exploration of the ancient and indigenous cultures are not merely scholarly tasks, or aesthetic fascinations. While embracing the modern world, we can acknowledge the “other” for their immense wisdom. This task is essential to transforming what has become stagnant, and unveiling the lost values hidden in our collective neurosis and dysfunction.

The notion of “Orpheus” and “Dionysus” become broad metaphors for the experiences of the shaman, the poet-type throughout all time — which reach into the deepest mysteries of what it means to be human. Both of these “male” figures are closely connected to the “feminine” as mystery and religious phenomenon.

At the center of my art is the attention to the woman, as the embodiment of the feminine, and her desire for revelation of the most ancient of religious practices, as well as the innermost secrets of our collective human experience.

This poetic conception of “Aphrodite” — so evidently central to the history of art — is known by many names across our collective cultural inheritance: Innana, Ishtar, Astarte, Isis, Demeter, Pachamama. She is the Great Mother at the beginning and end of time.

It is this work that is ongoing, as I am driven by the tides of history, and find myself interminably an “artist,” committed to this work of retrieving images and poems from the depths, in the attempt to communicate and render them alive to audiences today.

It is the desire to unravel the mystery of the feminine and to paint what I know, but can never fully grasp, that produces my art. Each individual viewer encounters themselves in the work — even if it seems to be utterly foreign.

Dancing by the sea

You can see me

When I am everywhere

Dancing still

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