Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sanctuary: Veronica De Jesus and Regina Clarkinia at Martina } { Johnston Gallery

As I first caught sight of Veronica De Jesus’s new work kindly exploding from the walls of the Martina }{ Johnston Gallery I swore I heard the bong of a distant gong, a sound that seemed most fitting for these large drawings that allude to prayer circles and open chakras. I followed the resounding tones from piece to piece, allowing my eye to travel through multi-dimensional spaces, lost pyramids, and all-seeing disembodied eyes. Tiny white cosmograms or vévés give the drawings the feel of magical charms, primal insignias that with the right incantation would take the viewer further through each image. A couple drawings featured Chauvet Cave-like icons, but instead of hands we’re treated to the outline of basic human figures, hand in hand, circular and inclusive. These are not joyless, static surfaces: De Jesus’s regenerative work acts as a visual conduit to a healing retreat within oneself in order to bring about much needed down-time the world of commerce seems to not understand.

Winding my way through the kitchen of the gallery and exiting onto a welcoming porch, I spied a large screen TV glowing in another room: Regina Clarkinia’s recent video (part of a larger children’s variety show project) features the joyous, unself-conscious play of various children who we watch wriggle and bounce across the screen. I remarked to a fellow attendee that it’s a shame we adults would be jailed or institutionalized for exhibiting such wonderfully freeform behavior. Off-kilter Impanema circus music soundtracks wild child movements which are interspersed with quirky scenes of paper cats, a mouse, and an owl in various discussions. Part of the charm of this video is Clarkinia’s obvious personal delight in child’s play. These children were obviously comfortable in her presence, which made for a sweetly fun viewing experience.

Kids Show from Regina Clarkinia

In the backyard of the gallery sits The Light Temple made of large pieces of fabric that have palm-side up hands sewn into them, bringing to mind Palmistry prognostication or the Chiromantic hand engraving of Robert Fludd.

As it began to rain I thought I wouldn’t be able to fully seek sanctuary within its cotton walls, but the tchotchkes of “mind-spirit” arranged inside allowed me to hold fast, creating an invisible roof that deflected each droplet as I folded into myself and disappeared.

May 28th, 2011 to August 14th, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday May 28th, 4 to 8 p.m.
Hours: Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment

Martina } { Johnston Gallery

1201 Sixth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710


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