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13Forest Gallery: 'Personal Space' to open Saturday

13Forest Gallery

UPDATED Sept. 24: 13Forest Gallery, which reopened at 167A Mass. Ave. on May 21 after having been displaced by a fire next door in August 2021, has announced that a new exhibition, "Personal Space," is set to open Oct. 1.

See below for details.

'Personal Space,' an exhibition featuring paintings by Chen Peng and Mike Ryczek.
Top: Chen Peng, "Okay, I’m Going Home," oil on canvas; Bottom: Mike Ryczek, "Taipei, Taiwan / 4.2.22 / 11:33 AM," oil on panel.

Peng and Ryczek begin their paintings with meticulous observation. Peng studies the objects of her daily life, looking for something that provokes an emotional response; Ryczek scours surveillance footage online, searching for the perfect fleeting moment. Although the artists are driven by different impulses, they both use this process as a means of understanding.

In painting familiar, personal objects, Peng creates an inventory of her life that serves as a form of self-portraiture. Each of her paintings in Personal Space revolves around a different object in the vicinity of her work area; it could be a clock from her childhood home or a favorite power tool. Though the objects of these paintings are firmly grounded in Peng’s life, she imagines surreal, dreamy worlds for them to occupy and plays with scale to emphasize their importance to her. While revealing a portion of the artist’s inner life, this body of work also serves as a meditation on how people use objects to construct and reflect their identities.

Ryczek discovered his source material in an online repository of international surveillance camera videos that reveal quotidian details of life that are normally inaccessible to an outsider. Ryczek was drawn to this footage by the unguarded nature of its subjects, and the practical rather than aesthetic focus of its surreptitious cameras.

Drawing on the art historical tradition of people-watching, Ryczek’s work is a modern take on a practice now made possible through technological means. His recreation of bird’s eye camera angles and digital distortions reflect the contradictions of our digital age; though technology can collapse vast distances, we are always set apart from each other by the screens that separate us. 

The paintings in Personal Space present normally inaccessible worlds stripped of their barriers. Both artists indulge the human, voyeuristic impulse to seek out hidden aspects of life, which feel more genuine for their closely guarded nature. Peng reveals parts of herself by openly sharing private objects she holds most dear. By contrast, Ryczek’s surveillance series offers a clandestine intimacy with the lives of others who have dropped the pretense of public performance. Personal Space invites viewers to reconsider the mundane and to find beauty in the seemingly inconsequential objects and activities that comprise our selves. 

PERSONAL SPACE, Oct. 1 through Nov. 1. 

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: noon to 6

This news announcement, based on information provided by art gallery owner Marc Gurton, was updated Sept. 24, 2022. 

YOUR VIEW: Opinions: Medford St., AFD, ACMi, sources, poetry, Mugar, Alewife

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