Asya Geisberg Gallery is pleased to present “Lotus Eaters”, an exhibition of paintings by Canadian-Israeli artist Melanie Daniel. This newest series marks a philosophical shift within Daniel’s oeuvre, with a retreat from her previously taut and politically charged milieu into a more languorous hallucinatory landscape. Here, Daniel encodes anxiety based on the turmoil of the Middle East with an increasingly subversive painterly language. While her preceding series “Echo Shield” alluded to an abstracted militarism and surveillance, Daniel’s current works initially suggest an idyllic sublimity, only upon closer inspection yielding to a latent content of eerie unease. A post-apocalyptic aura emanates, where quasi-extant lone figures emerge and are in turn disembodied into the murk. The paintings posit a markedly invented language and space, where seemingly peaceful environs slowly suggest a darker edge. A caustic palette, anarchic abstraction, foreign vegetation and tangled marks fight amid a constant flurry of disparate styles. Narratives remain unwritten, as the figure is caught in an oneiric state, disconnected from its environs, unmoored or overburdened with Daniel’s whirlwind of cryptic gestures.
Daniel’s newly softened stance belies the conflict that worms its way insidiously into her world. In the titular “Lotus Eater”, an allusion to the mythological island-dwellers struck with a narcotic peacefulness, Daniel hints at our utopic wish for apathy. In “Two Shores Away, Still Sloshing”, a survivor aimlessly wades beneath a lush overhang, post-calamity, in a psychedelic-colored sky with a curved horizon, towing his lone possession – a marijuana plant. In “Sky’s Low Silver” doppelgangers are present in both the lake-reflecting sky and a second ghostly receding figure. Nuclear halos and neon glows subsume the menace of constant conflict, where the individual is absorbed or almost nullified.
Influenced by the idiosyncratic narratives of Peter Doig, the impending doom found in Daniel Richter’s work, and arch-Canadian painters such as Tom Thompson, Daniel’s works expose the hope of escaping back to nature or a hard-won peace as impossible ideals. Every moment carries an aftershock, every place fails to provide refuge from the threat.