Alexia Vogel: Tangled Dreams
I’m crossing the threshold
From the ordinary world
To the reveal of my heart *
Running presently at Barnard Gallery, Cape Town is Tangled Dreams by Alexia Vogel. By the end of 2019, Vogel was unsure of the direction her next show would take. The first tests that she made were dark, densely layered and complex. It felt like there must be something on the other side, but she couldn’t see a way toward it. The only path forward seemed to be deeper darkness, greater complexity and more depth. But instead of bashing forward, Vogel discovered that the path through could be found in spontaneity and light. By exposing the foundations beneath, she has found illumination.
There is an almost manic energy to these new works. The energy of something newly released which has been constrained for a long time. There is also, in spite or because of their light touch, a new nuance. Although the jungle is still there, it is the jungle as seen in a reflection or refracted through some other medium. There is also a paradoxical strength or boldness in the lighter touch. Something like the greater impression a fevered dream can have than mundane reality.
All my Birds of Paradise is the middle of the jungle – the thickest, deepest part. It is also the first work produced for this show, a somewhat dark and ominous point of departure. Standing in front of this painting, it is hard to identify a pathway through it. The large-format wall of tangled imagery engulfs you – a mixture of sensual chaos and mania. You can feel the humidity. There is an endless depth, but because it is inaccessible, there is also no space in it at all.
As inescapable as the work seems, the pathways into the rest of the show are within it. Elements of All my Birds of Paradise appear in hazy echoes throughout the body of work as in Yellow Flutter and Collide. They are stripped down and somewhat frenzied impressions – half-remembered notes from a field journal. A dream turned lucid. Perhaps seen with greater clarity through reflection.
The show (as much as these things are ever categorizable) has three parts. Starting with the heavy impenetrable darkness of All my Birds of Paradise and Whirl, it begins thrashing through the morass with energy and dynamism in Trance/Kaleidoscope, Delirium and Caught up in the Dance and opens up into the dreamlike clearing of Hold, hold and Touch, touch. The energy of the in-between works (Tale, Glow/Hold On and Lure) is both the frantic energy of trying to force a way through an enclosure and the enlivening realisation that there is a way through – that the more path Alexia Vogel cleared the more appeared before her – an ecstatic/epiphanic realisation of found freedom.
Alexia Vogel: Tangled Dreams runs at Barnard Gallery Cape Town until 2 March 2021.
December 20, 2021
December 13, 2021