The current exhibition at Chinatown’s Mihai Nicodim Gallery, previously Kontainer Gallery, explores the precarious political consequences of human desires. Curated by Jane Neal, The Punishment of Lust and Luxury’s featured artists include Cyprien Gaillard, Adrian Ghenie, Ciprian Muresan and Martin Skauen, all of whom respond, whether directly or indirectly, to the socially conscious paintings of 19th Century Italian artist Giovanni Segantini. Segantini, who depicted bad mothers in his 1891 series The Punishment of Lust (later renamed The Punishment of Luxury), provides a springboard for artists considering the timeless problem of materialism in today’s cultural landscape.
The exhibition at Nicodim Gallery includes an array of media, from drawing to video, and the tone is noticeably understated, echoing the mood of a world facing economic uncertainty. Some of the work is tedious, like a video in which soldiers peel potatoes ad nauseam, and other work, like Adrian Ghenie’s collage and acrylic depiction of a wolf standing in a room full of political propaganda, is more ominous. The Punishment of Lust and Luxury continues through February 28, 2009.