Big Pictures Los Angeles is pleased to present Sympathetic Magic, curated by Alex Sewell, featuring Eric Ashcraft, Matthew Arnone, Grace Mattingly, & Tyler Lafreniere. An opening reception will be held May 4th, 7:00pm – 11:00pm.

Sympathetic Magic is a group exhibition that explores the creation of idiosyncratic representations that attempt to change the artist’s perception of reality. Sir James George Frazier in  “ The Golden Bough “ (1889) defined sympathetic magic as the realization of a magic act through either imitation or correspondance, the result of which relies heavily in the magician’s honest belief that the trick will succeed in front of a mesmerized audience. The four artists in this exhibition are magicians in their own right, dexterous in the practice of their own craft and holding forth their highly distinctive styles with a confidence that will convince any viewer of the importance of the painting’s message.

Matthew Arnone’s paintings pull no punches in the earnest intent of their formation.  A beautiful desperation permeates every brushstroke, rendered in a loving and forceful manner.  A true successor to neo-expressionism, Arnone’s surrender of restraint is accomplished with aplomb and grace.

Eric Ashcraft’s work balance a razor sharp and self-deprecating wit alongside the precision composition and color theory of a minimalist painter.  His works border on the surreal but always remain grounded in the physics and limitations of real life, forcing us to confront the realism of his macabre, yet playful arrangements.

Grace Mattingly lovingly paints pure human from that clashes somehow softly against itself.  Her work displays a brilliant nuance in saturation of color and composition. Seemingly inspired by proto cubism and a convergence of regionalism and fauvism, her characters exist in an incredibly physical manner, forming the painting around their actions within her painted world.

Tyler Lafreniere’s work could be considered hyper documentation.  Displaying an acute tactility, his prints boil down surrounding ornamentation into carefully chosen sacred objects that define both the subjects in the work and the viewer’s experience of the work as a whole.  Metal casting, silk screening, and concentrated flourishes of painting combine to create altars that seem utterly real and present.

The artists represented here each have a distinct manner of portraying the worlds that they have created for themselves and their art,  without contrivance that could keep the viewer from experiencing the intent of the work and believe in its earnest qualities.

Link to checklist

An incantation, or a spell, is a magical formula intended to trigger a magical effect on a person or objects. The formula can be spoken, sung or chanted. An incantation can also be performed during ceremonial rituals or prayers. Other words synonymous with incantation is spells, charms or to bewitch. In the world of magic, the incantations are said to be performed by wizards, witches and fairies.[1]

In medieval literature, folklore, fairy tales and modern fantasy fiction, enchantments are charms or spells. This has led to the terms “enchanter” and “enchantress” for those who use enchantments.[2] The term was loaned into English around AD 1300. The corresponding native English term being “galdr” “song, spell”. The weakened sense “delight” (compare the same development of “charm”) is modern, first attested in 1593 (OED).

Any word can be an incantation as long as the words are spoken with inflection and emphasis on the words being said. The tone and rhyme of how you speak the words matter on the outcome of the magical effect. The tone, rhyme, and placement of words used in the formula matters in influencing the outcome of the magical effect. The person who is speaking magical words usually commands for the magic to be carried out. The incantation performed can bring up powerful emotions and remind one of a sense of awe in childhood.[3]

Surviving written records of historical magic spells were largely obliterated in many cultures by the success of the major monotheistic religions, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, which label some magical activity as immoral or associated with evil.

SYMPATHETIC MAGIC - MAY 4 - JUNE 15, 2019Doug Crocco