Constructing Paradise

Exhibition Website

Feb 1 2017 - Apr 24 2017

Austrian Cultural Forum

New York City, NY

Constructing Paradise, a group exhibition curated by Dieter Buchhart and Mathias Kessler exploring the themes and history of the "exotic" and its interpretation in contemporary art. 

The rapid industrialization and urbanization in the late 19th century led society to yearn for a sense of newness and otherness in the face of the modernizing world. As artists like Gauguin became entranced by faraway places, a novel category of imagery illustrating a previously unseen and "undiscovered" part of the world began to pervade the West­ern canon. The idea of a "wild, untouched exotic" emerged as a product of colonialism, as many of the same justifications for colonial rule also fueled Western curiosity of these foreign lands, making way for a revised colonial narra­tive: creating desire-worlds that existed to fulfill Western dreams and desires.

Constructing Paradise exhibits contemporary reinterpretations of notions of the "exotic" by artists based in Austria or the United States. Taking iconic artworks such as Paul Gauguin's Noa Noa and Oskar Kokoschka's Tiger Cat as starting points, the show assembles a diverse range of work from early contemporary to more recent artistic responses to the modernist imprint of desire and fantasy on contemporary culture. Particularly when juxta­posed with hyperbolized images of modern-day advertising, the exhibition explores the psychological impacts of the modernist image on image culture and the Western psyche.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • Painting
  • International
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Oskar Kokoschka
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Mark Dion
  • Nives Widauer
  • Kara Walker
  • Mathias Kessler
  • Mickalene Thomas
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates