Contact:

justineneuberger@gmail.com

Statement:

My work appropriates imagery from folk stories and dream interpretation to explore dynamics of love, power and predation through narrative, figurative painting. My images recreate cycles of cataclysm and rest, ritual, routine, chaos and control. I also express longing for alternative realities to the experience of over-exposure, alienation and fragmentation in daily life, and grapple with the fears and desires these conditions produce. In these surreal works, mystery, and a sensation of wholeness seem possible. Feminine, childlike imagery from folklore, including conical hats, poulaines, full skirt dresses, and bucolic landscapes collapse time within the pictorial world and resist masculine, patriarchal aesthetics. 

This series is titled after Northop Frye’s literary concept of “Green World.” Frye writes about Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, where action begins in the normal, civilized world and then continues into the Green World, an alternate, potentially violent realm of nature, where conflict may be resolved. He describes the Green World as "the archetypal function of literature in visualizing the world of desires, not as an escape from "reality," but as the genuine form of the world that human life tries to imitate." The works in my Green World series aim to visualize this location of drives and impulses. 

With humor and pastiche, I paint personifications of instincts, desires and human dynamics. In one, an optimistic young couple rides a bull over a mountain inspired by Minoan frescoes of sacred bull fighting rituals. Riane Eisler describes these bull sports:

“The equal partnership between women and men that seems to have characterized Minoan society is perhaps nowhere so vividly illustrated as in these sacred bull games, where young men and women entrusted their lives to each other. These rituals, which combined excitement, skill, and religious fervor, also appear to have been characteristic of the Minoan spirit...they were designed not only for individual pleasure or salvation but to invoke the divine power to bring well-being to the entire society.” 

Liberated from their bodies, my amorphous shadow man and woman forgive past tribulations and embark on new adventures on a verdant mountain peak. I also borrow from Prince’s color theory as the block that forms their bodies becomes purple when man blue and woman pink merge. In other works, a shadow-Elvis dances with an enamoured woman in a brueghelian harvest festival, and a Grateful Dead inspired grim reaper serenades a girl in the woods.  

Frye writes a recurring theme in Shakespeare’s romantic comedies is that in the Green World love may triumph over the wasteland. Such love can only exist in this natural, clandestine ground, separate from public sight. Hannah Arendt writes:

“love, in distinction from friendship, is killed, or rather extinguished, the moment it is displayed in public. ("Never seek to tell thy love / Love that never told can be.") Because of Its inherent worldlessness, love can only become false and perverted when it is used for political purposes such as the change or salvation of the world.”

My works explore this shadowy, ephemeral, private realm, where we hide wild impulses and protect love and intimacy from the spotlight of the public arena.