December 6, 2022-January 11, 2023
Alexander Berggruen is pleased to present Madeleine Bialke, M. Florine Démosthène, Sahara Longe, Nadia Waheed. This exhibition opened Tuesday, December 6, 2022 with a reception from 5-7 pm at the gallery (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3, New York, NY).
Framing narratives with space for mystery, compassion, and intrigue through figuration, Madeleine Bialke, M. Florine Démosthène, Sahara Longe, and Nadia Waheed open portals to access the surreal. Though varied in their inspirations and context, the artists in this show each usher uncertainty into their paintings, enchanting a viewer in the spaces between the seen and the unseen.
Party Scene, 2022
oil on linen
35 3/8 x 39 3/8 in. (90 x 100 cm.)
Courtesy of the artist and Timothy Taylor, London.
Madeleine Bialke paints anthropomorphized landscapes where the full-bodied trees become the principal individuals, equipped with personalities, emotions, and relationships. This personification renders revelations about humankind’s interconnectedness with nature, as the artist is, in her words, “dissolving, closing, or shortening a gap between what is human and what is other.” In her painting Last Leg, the flesh-toned tree on the right becomes bare at its peak, signaling the beginning of its decay. Yet, as Bialke notes, “Even when trees are dead, they’re part of the forest (standing or fallen), both as physical sculptural presences but also as homes for birds and bugs. Aliveness and liveliness become different things.” As she finds light even in the contradictions amidst death, Bialke harnesses the symbolic potential of nature.
Anthropomorphizing the landscape in a divergent manner, M. Florine Démosthène constructs figures as bodies of water, embracing their shimmering, slippery, powerfully steadfast qualities. Démosthène captures an organized chaos as she composes her figures by collaging sliced components from paint spills and drips. The swirling washes of color pulsate on the surface, imbuing the figures with intense emotionality, punctuated by glittering eyes. A scintillating, hairlike essence of cosmic origins is also conjured from the palms and fingertips of select figures, charging them with a mystical power. In Démosthène’s The Ally, the feet of the foremost figure face both forwards and backwards, a signifier of the past, present, and future as a reference to “carrying traditions from the past into the present moment to reimagine the diaspora”. (1) The enigmatic relationships developed between Démosthène’s figures enable them to approach transcendence through exploring power, community, and love.
Sahara Longe cloaks the scenes she paints in mystery as her figures’ flattened expressions and gazes reveal little. Their stoic faces afford space for projection onto the allegory as she obscures the relationships between the figures and builds tension in the uncertainty allowing a viewer to collaborate with the artist’s storytelling. Longe selectively endows her figures with thick contour lines which psychologically signify both their separation from and influence on their environments, invoking movement, energy, and importance. Yet, the background’s depiction offers only a suggestion of the environment, clarified marginally by Longe’s locational titles. A coy narrator with a restrained palette inspired by Old Master painting, Longe paints scenes which implicate a viewer and refuse to be tied to a single identity. If there were a page to turn, what secrets would be lurking here?
Nadia Waheed’s Prophetic Medicine paintings included in this show question the nature of perspective, morality, and aesthetics. Informed by her studies of Sufi (also known as Islamic magic) and witchcraft—referenced by both the Quran and the Hadith—Waheed’s paintings give form to spirituality as a fourth dimension, making clear the spectral world that exists alongside the corporeal. In Waheed’s Prophetic Medicine I, a cosmic being illuminates the Brown figure’s inner conflicts, as depicted by a battle scene from an 18th century manuscript. (2) What is unclear, however, is if this action is intended to help or to hurt—this may be an exorcism or a curse, and it’s further difficult to predict whether a descent into madness might result in “good” or “bad” outcomes. Prophetic Medicine II features figures walking towards a beaming sun in a procession to seek good karma. The symbols of the nāma-karman samsthana, which represent the possible levels of a body’s symmetry, mark the path as the progressively well-postured figures near the purity of the sun. Seeking spiritual harmony, Waheed explores the ethics of perspective as the values initially ascribed to events may transform.
Press Release by Kirsten Cave
Madeleine Bialke, M. Florine Démosthène, Sahara Longe, Nadia Waheed will run at Alexander Berggruen (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3) from December 6, 2022-January 11, 2023. The exhibition’s preview is available upon request. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Lily Kuonen, “Declarations and Devotions,” M. Florine Démosthène, Always in All Ways (September 6-October 22, 2022), Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, St. Augustine, FL.
(2) Attributed to the artist Manaku (ca. 1700-ca.1760), The Great Battle between the Gods and Demons, Illustrated folio from the dispersed, unfinished “Small Guler” Bhagavata Purana (The Ancient Story of God) Punjab Hills, kingdom of Guler, ca. 1740, drawing in brush and black ink on paper.
M. Florine Démosthène
The Ally, 2022
collage on paper (ink, mylar, pigment stick, and glitter), framed
44 x 30 in. (111.8 x 76.2 cm.)
Madeleine Bialke (b. 1991, Elmira, NY) received a BFA in studio art from the Plattsburgh State University of New York, Plattsburgh, NY and an MFA in painting from Boston University, Boston, MA. Her work has been exhibited at Newchild Gallery, Antwerp, BE; Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London, UK; Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, GE; Taymour Grahne Projects, London, UK; CICA Vancouver, Vancouver, BC; Sof:Art Foundation, Bologna, IT; Alexander Berggruen, New York, NY; Visions West Contemporary, Denver, CO; Davis Originals, Taos, AZ; Deanna Evans Projects, New York, NY; Harper’s Books, Easthampton, NY; Dinner Gallery, New York, NY; Able Baker Contemporary, Portland, ME; and Nolia’s Gallery, London, UK, among others. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
M. Florine Démosthène was born in the United States and raised between Port-au-Prince, Haiti and New York. Démosthène earned her BFA from Parsons School for Design in New York and her MFA from Hunter College-City University of New York. She has exhibited extensively through group and solo exhibitions in the USA, Caribbean, UK, Europe, and Africa, with recent solo shows at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Paris, FR; Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, St. Augustine, FL; and Gallery 1957 Accra, Ghana. She is the recipient of a Wachtmeister Award, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Arts Moves Africa Grant, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. Her work is included in the public collections of International African American Museum, Charleston, SC; CCS Bard College Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Africa First Collection, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel; Lowe Museum of Art, Miami, FL; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC; and University of South Africa, Pretoria, SA. Démosthène lives and works between New York, NY; Accra, Ghana; and Johannesburg, SA.
Sahara Longe (b. 1994, London, UK) is a British artist who lives and works in London, UK. Selected shows include Young Artist Partnership, London, 2019; Heart of the Matter, Gillian Jason, London, 2021 and IRL (In Real Life), Timothy Taylor, London, 2021. In October 2021, Longe attended the Great Women Artists Residency at the Palazzo Monti. Longe’s work is in several important collections in the UK and the USA including those of the National Art Gallery, London, UK; the York Gallery, UK; the Simon Nixon Collection, UK; and the Lisa Goodman and Josef Vascovitz Collection, US.
Nadia Waheed (b. 1992, Al Khobar, Eastern Province, SA) received a BFA in 2015 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The artist has held solo exhibitions at Gallery 1957, London, UK; Arsenal Contemporary, New York, NY; BEERS London, London, UK; Mindy Solomon Gallery, Miami, FL; The Museum of Human Achievement, Austin, TX; Raw Paw Gallery, Austin, TX; and Bolm Studios, Austin, TX. Her work has been included in numerous group shows including at Nicodim, Los Angeles, CA; Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY; Lyles & King, New York, NY; Andrea Festa Fine Art, Rome, Italy; Spoke Art, Honolulu, HI; Bellevue Arts Museum, Seattle, WA; The Museum of Human Achievement, Austin, TX; and ARC Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Waheed lives and works in Austin, TX.