Press Release: The Unicorn in Captivity

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

The Unicorn in Captivity: New Paintings by Alexa Horochowski Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program celebrates expanded galleries as part of the Grand Opening of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts June 11 – August 13, 2006

Minneapolis, MN, April 25, 2006— The Unicorn in Captivity: New Paintings by Alexa Horochowski is a solo exhibition featuring work by one of Minnesota’s most innovative and creative artists in recent years. This exhibition is also the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program’s (MAEP) Grand Opening show in its expanded galleries in the new Target Wing at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), which opens to the public on June 11. Horochowski’s large acrylic paintings are at once whimsical, funny, unabashed, macabre, and even startling. The images in the paintings conjure the complicated visions of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Alice in Wonderland and its original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel, and the foreboding forest imagery from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and its illustrations by W. W. Denslow.

In both Carroll’s and Baum’s stories, written and illustrated for children but with underlying political context for the adults reading these tales aloud, young girls embark on great adventures during which they shed the innocence of childhood and enter the complicated world of adults. The original illustrations for both books are cartoon-like drawings colored in flat hues without modeling. Horochowski’s new paintings follow a similar aesthetic. It is a style, said Horochowski, “that is influenced by artists since Andy Warhol, such as Kara Walker and Takashi Murakami, who take elements from graphic arts and incorporate them into the fine arts.”

Horochowski infuses her paintings with humor and kitsch and at the same time pulls the menacing fears of the subconscious into her motifs. The paintings feature images of pre-adolescent youths—mostly girls—engaged in seemingly harmless play set against a backdrop of open land and bright water. With landscapes peppered with repeating elements of gnarled, leafless and menacing trees, these paintings hover in a delicate balance between laughter and horror, childhood and adulthood, and life and death.

Of her compositions, Horochowski said, “These visual narratives often explore my bicultural, Argentinean-Midwestern experience.” She spent most of her girlhood in Argentina, one of four children of Argentinean parents with roots in Spain and the Ukraine. She often paints “twins,” a boy and a girl, or racially diverse children, to highlight “one’s fascination with ‘the other.’”

Horochowski’s new pictures are sexually charged as well. The youngsters depicted are often unashamedly naked, boys and girls together, teetering on the brink of sexual actualization. “It’s an awareness that is met with cool impunity and indifference such as is only possible in the vigor of youth,” said Horochowski about her new work.

The artist, who earned an M.F.A. degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, has exhibited photographs, sculptures, and installations in Chile and Argentina, as well as Spain, Italy, and many major cities in the United States. Horochowski has received grants from both the Jerome and McKnight foundations and she is an assistant professor of art at St. Cloud State University, in St. Cloud, MN. Horochowski is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, and Braga Menéndez Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Monique Meloche Gallery will co-sponsor a presentation of this exhibition at Schopf Gallery, Chicago, after its premiere at the MIA.

The Unicorn in Captivity is on view at the MIA from June 11 through July 23, 2006. The opening reception will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, and a gallery talk will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 22.

The Unicorn in Captivity is presented by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program, an artist-run curatorial department of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, made possible by generous support from the Jerome Foundation.