For a visual artist born in Romania the same year of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986) the impulse to excavate the magic dystopian realism of the scenario and its aftermath is easy to imagine. In Mi Kafchin’s canvases, compositional tension is built between the push and pull of brutalist architectural splendor and feral, radioactive nature; while narrative dimensions unfold with the inscrutable mythology of post-Soviet displacement, disinformation and conspiracy, randomness and rebellion. Kafchin's new exhibition Chemtrails is on view at Nicodim Gallery in the arts district through June 1.
The world thus conjured from arrays of rich, queasy hues and confident brushstrokes — as well as the monumental scrolling mural made of quirky line drawing and collapsed spatial planes — is a world in which amalgamated symbols and objects are brought into eccentric juxtapositions by a host of unseen forces — chemical, governmental, mythological, fantastical, personal, and geological. In one canvas, a kind of master architect, half-alien, half Freemason, is seen figuring out what a future earth might look like. In another, a gorgeous cloud of atmospheric effects like a toxic aurora borealis lights up the sky above a stodgy small town.
Glaciers calve, revealing Aztec pyramids hidden in the ice as submarines watch from the floe. Everywhere mutancy is the order of the day, and always the sky is shot through with chemtrails — saturated polychrome symbols of both environmental degradation and government conspiracy. As the vast line-drawing mural unfolds, a compendium of objects from the household to the landmark, esoteric to extraterrestrial, nostalgic to nauseated, art historical to industrial, and science fiction to social and political, marches across the wall like a memory bank.
Chemtrails is on view at Nicodim Gallery in the arts district through June 1. 571 S. Anderson St., downtown; Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm; free.
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