DECEMBER 15, 2020 - APRIL 3, 2021

Thordis Adalsteinsdottir, Shiva Ahmadi, Nicole Eisenman, Chitra Ganesh, Angela Heisch, Orly Maiberg, linn meyers, Bridget Mullen, Rebeca Puga, Fiona Rae, and Beverly Semmes.


Shoshana Wayne Gallery is pleased to announce “UnRealism,” an exhibition of over 30 paintings by 11 women artists that reflect their own highly personal response and attitude to the ‘unrealism’ of our times. For some of the artists this has been a moment of existential crisis requiring bold statements and reflection on our place in society and the world, while for others ‘unrealism‘ has meant a doubling down on the role of art as a space for quiet, peaceful contemplation.

Hide Press Release

Drawn from different generations and backgrounds in Europe, Asia and America, what connects the artists is their difference: Thordis Adalsteinsdottir, Shiva Ahmad, Nicole Eisenman, Chitra Ganesh, Angela Heisch, Orly Maiberg, linn meyers, Bridget Mullen, Rebeca Puga, Fiona Rae, and Beverly Semmes. Together they take the pulse of painting in the world today, reflecting what is being made now, among women painters, as well as in the art world more broadly at a time in which no particular art style or movement dominates and everything seems to coexist and mingle.

The artwork speaks for itself. But there are commonalities. Each of the artists in their own distinct way is socially minded. A commitment to painting is also unwavering and paramount— even if the materials and the surfaces which they use in their work clearly differ. So too is a commitment to realism, as a mode of expression, although this varies in the work from painterly forms of figuration to a new surrealism and expressionism bordering at times on abstraction. Unrealism is therefore reflected not just in the chosen content or subject matter of their work but a straddling and confusion of formal lines between figuration and abstraction. To all of the artists the distinction does not seem to be a hard or fast one but evocative of the doubts and questions we all face today.

Realistic depiction is a starting point for Ganesh, Rae, Adalsteinsdottir, Eisenman, Ahmadi, Semmes. The body in particular is the preferred subject, usually women’s bodies but not in a conventional sense of a female nude: these are bodies in transition, dissolution, movement, wracked with conflicts from within and out. Bodies of the past mingle with present life to forge a vision of what could or should be, at the least according to the artist. There is always something that disturbs us in these paintings, repressed or forgotten feelings welling up.

A similar evocation of energy and tension characterizes the artwork of the other main group of artists in this exhibition, Heisch, Puga, Mullen, Maiberg and Meyers who tend to abstract their focus with forms that defy easy categorization. The landscape or some kind of space emerges tangentially as a theme here, though frequently one has a feeling when looking at this work of falling into or through space.