Sep 8th 2023

Journie Cirdain: Memento Vivere

@ Western Exhibitions

1709 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Opening Friday, September 8th, from 5PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, October 28th

Journie Cirdain thinks of the drawing surface as a locus for thought, puns, personal narrative, scraps of information, remembered art history, daydreams, desires and other tangled remnants of everyday life to magically become visual. For Cirdain, drawing is the flower child of art; it’s non-aggressive, laid back, experimental, lascivious, and sometimes deceptive, at least to a less observant person. For her first show at Western Exhibitions, Cirdain combines traditional drawing tropes—still life, observational drawing, even bouquets—with invented images from the subconscious that elucidates her place in the world. The show opens on Friday, September 8 with a free public reception at our Chicago location from 5 to 8pm. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm.

Cirdain’s drawings are materially minimalist, pared down to wood, graphite, and paper. Visually, they explode with a Baroque detail as Cirdain scuffs and cobbles her images together, growing organically. These are notes from the forest, a tongue in cheek psychedelic attempt to mark down the infinite and ineffable way in which all things touch, change and create each other.

Cirdain directs her images by a word, object, or with her actual body, which is placed into the center of the surface like a stone. A wide range of scratches, scribbles, smears, and detailed drawing techniques reveal the system of connections that builds upon a philosophical inquiry about how to live life. For her, drawing elaborates, crosses out, copies, and plays with the art that came before it. Her images are sometimes ironic, sometimes earnest, as Cirdain wrestles with imposed parameters, histories, and situations in her life. Her compositions are contrived together from real life observation, from the memory of the observation, or from the idea that the observation insights. They are then glued together with the myriad and infinite number of details that are specific to her experience and location at the time of making.

These drawings hold a wide-open attitude towards life. Still lives come alive, and the human experience is augmented by otherness. Borrowing from the emotional tenor of a fairy tale, Cirdain’s drawings are sometimes beautiful, sometimes gruesome, and often impossible. Cirdain enjoys taking things one step further. For example, not just a memento mori, but a memento mori which borrows from 600,000 years of human impact on the death and life cycle. She asks questions which are not limited by judgements about what matters or doesn’t. What happens while we sleep? How do flowers experience desire? What is a tree’s perspective of time?

Journie Nikala Cirdain (born 1993, Santa Rosa, California) has shown in exhibitions at The Green Gallery in Milwaukee, Leo Marchutz School in Aix-En-Provence, France and in Illinois at the Elmhurst Art Museum, Bridgeport Art Center and Patient Info. Her work in the 2023 Western Exhibitions Drawing Biennial was written about in Hyperallergic and Chicago Reader and her writing has appeared in Chicago Artist Writers and FNEWS Magazine. Cirdain received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was the recipient of the New Artist Society full merit scholarship, and currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.

Image info: Seattle to Salem , 2022, Ink, colored pencil, acrylic, detritus on canvas, 112h x 70 1/2w in

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