Beverly Fishman – Artificial Paradise



MARCH 14 – MAY 9, 2013

For more than a century and a half, artists and writers have explored altered states of consciousness, finding creativity in delirium and the derangement of the senses.  French poet and critic Charles Baudelaire wrote of the effects of wine, opium and hashish on the mind and senses in Artificial Paradises (1860), describing their beneficial as well as harmful effects.  Different drugs and substances have disparate consequences, he argued, changing perception, thought, and action in radically dissimilar ways depending on their strengths and combinations.  The aggregate of consciousness-effecting substances available to the artist today has expanded considerably since Baudelaire’s epoch–the drug industry is composed of both legal and illegal branches, and there is no aspect of the self that is safe from psycho-pharmacological manipulation.

Scatters of glass pills and tablets evoke a shrunken Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass state-of-mind in Beverly Fishman’s Artificial Paradise.  Each element has a unique pattern and color configuration, allowing viewers to construct their own “cure”.  Enamel on stainless steel paintings mirror and refract the spectator, dissolving us into shifting arrays of molecules, capsule forms, neuron spike readouts, and moiré patterns. Acknowledging the ever expanding power of science and the drug industries, these hallucinatory portraits and landscapes question distinctions between organic and mechanical, inside and outside, poison and cure.