SAVERY GALLERY presents Journeys, an immersive installation of paintings by Andrea Hornick.
Andrea Hornick is artist and shaman, borrowing from the roles of art historian, curator, and museum guide. She is informed by the history of painting, the economics of collecting, the politics of reproduction, historiography, post-feminism, and shamanism. Hornick paints in the pristine, lush fashion of old master workshops, in a practice rooted in text and performance that expands into audio. Her work takes the form of careful reproductions of Renaissance portraiture with the addition of the sitter's spirit animal. The animals are found through a shamanic drumming practice that Hornick learned in childhood. Journeys is an exhibition both seen and experienced, an immersive installation that seeks to reclaim and restructure traditional signifiers of authority and authorship.
Hornick focuses on reproducing and altering existing portraiture sourced widely from the fifteenth to mid-nineteenthth centuries. Each reproduction bears technical, formal, and conceptual relationships to the historical painting on which it is based, almost indistinguishable in style and luster from the original. While her paintings may appear to be straightforward, they develop out of a complex historical and conceptual practice. Before brush touches canvas, Hornick delves into research; learning about the female sitters as well as the artist, the context of the commission, and other historical context of the portraits. Working with her gathered knowledge, she embarks on a shamanic drum journey to discover the spirit guide of the sitter. Integrating the animal spirit guides into the composition, Hornick reveals the suppressed expression of the sitter, the woman under gaze. ‘Journeys’ is borrowed from the language of traditional Shamanic Drum Journey, where the Shaman leads a person on a quest to find, meet, and join with an animal spirit guide that serves as protector on the path of experience and learning. The animal’s presence fills in missing information regarding the sitter’s own suppressed identity, her relationship to the painter, the process of the portrait, and the collector, who was often the sitter’s husband or father. In the paintings, ladies, wives, and courtesans are joined by great white sharks, howler monkeys, and blessbucks. Strengthened and protected by the presence of their animal spirit guides, the portraits become about the women and no longer the context in which they were painted.
In a more spontaneous facet of her practice Hornick produces works on paper, inspired by old masters’ studies and which serve as “post-studies” after the long process of portrait painting. It is a process in which she can stretch out from the constriction of reproduction in order to play and find her own connection to the pieces. Revisiting single portraits multiple times, she copies her own copies in indulgent, sumptuously rendered, and experimental compositions. In both the paintings and the works on paper, the animal is a symbol for Hornick’s alternative narratives, obscuring what might be asserted or assumed and instead encouraging new perspectives on the history and practice of painting.
For the exhibition Hornick has designed an installation, casting the viewer as another performer in the experience. The Gallery is transformed into a Museum-like space : small, curated groups of paintings breathe on large white walls and an audio guide presents the context and significance of the pieces. The Gallery Annex is the Museum’s “Flat File” or Archive, intimately displaying her works on paper without frames or glass. Upon participating, the viewer is complicit in two assumptions; that the work, as it is in the collection of a “museum,” has import and worth, and that the accompanying audio is authoritative, the true narrative of the piece. We are confronted by our own assumptions and decisions as Hornick seeks to critique and expand accepted art historical narratives by asserting authority of a different kind.
The triptychs of source paintings, arranged together based on the journeys and the animals, connect the sitters across time and space. Each grouping is accompanied by sound pieces, formatted in an audio guide that serves to interact with and further transform the carefully curated environment. These “Titles,” epic poems crafted in art historical language, are read by the artist in a voice that conflates the two authorities of the curator and the shaman, which are vastly different, though both deeply familiar to her. The artist and shaman replace the art historian as an authority figure; Hornick taps into this power in order to introduce multi-layered, incongruous “truths,” produce cognitive dissonance, and, at the limit, induce a trance-like state which provides new windows into interrogating accepted ideas of authority and authorship of one’s own experience. The work is rooted in relationships, interactions, connection, and the resulting transmutations. And through the immersive experience of Journeys, Hornick gently makes room for multiple understandings and impressions of the same work.
Andrea Hornick received her B.A. from Oberlin College, and later an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has shown internationally, and extensively in New York and Los Angeles; most recently with David Krut Projects NY, for which the catalogue Andrea Hornick Recent Work: 1460-1865 was published. A 1999 publication, Andrea Hornick: works from 1779-1798 was published for an installation and performance of the same name. She currently teaches a course entitled Museum as Site: Critique, Intervention, and Production, offered to fine art, architecture, and art history graduate students, and drawing courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Hornick has also taught at Barnard College, Oberlin College, and Auckland University, and as a Museum Teacher at The Jewish Museum, The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, The Morgan Library, and the Museum of Natural History. She was a Visiting Artist at Oberlin College and the University of California At Davis. Hornick divides her time between New York City and Philadelphia.