Kathy Grayson’s “Second Smile” Exhibition at The Hole, New York
Inspired by her memory of a college class on feminism and surrealism, Kathy Grayson’s Second Smile at The Hole NYC combines the work of 35 artists with surrealist tendencies and a whiff of feminism. It combines newer works by artists such as Ariana Papademetropoulos, Brittney Leeanne Williams, Louisa Gagliardi and Emily Mae Smith with loans of surrealist classics such as Giorgio De Chirico, Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali.
Second Smile is organized thematically: there’s a dark romance to Papademetropoulos’ rocking chair as it sinks into the ground, a creepy garden is invoked by Pedro Pedro’s pomegranate still life with nail clippers and Emily Mae Smith’s archetypal apple, Alexander Harrison’s enchanting Black Butterfly and Molly Greene’s hairy, uncanny figures lounging on astroturf. There are the embodied distortions of Brittney Leeanne Williams and Ali Bonfils, and the disturbing cartoon pop of Aaron Elvis Jupin and Ben Sanders. Some artists speak directly to their predecessors, like Botond Keresztesi whose From Dusk Till Dawn I adds an emoji to Magritte’s pipe. There is even a face mask zone, complete with Eric Yahnker’s chilling and timely homage to Magritte: where the Pandemic Lovers’ cloaks are newly layered with PPE.
The surrealists have always known there is power in the stereotypically feminine territories of dreams and the imaginary. And while Second Smile opened digitally at the dawn of a global pandemic, this time of uncertainty presents an opportunity for new imagining, and Second Smile takes on the issues at hand. As Kara Joslyn’s cutout ghoul proclaims, “Today The Devil Whispered In My Ear, “You’re Not Strong Enough To Withstand The Storm.” And I Whispered, “6 Feet Back, Motherfucker.”