Dreaming the Real: Nathan Huff, Siobhan McClure, and Eve Wood at South Bay Contemporary

03/02/2016 04:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. -- Carl Jung

The thing about dreams is that they make sense at the time. Dream logic, it's called, and the idea is that no matter how outlandish by waking standards events may seem in retrospect, within the dream the mind accepts the unrealistic cavalcade of non-sequiturs, transposed identities, gravity-defiance, and temporal anomalies with equanimity. It is the same with art. In a painting, laws of physics and predictive familiarity can be suspended without consequence, because it was always already invented, accepted as such by all parties, and need only answer to the cogency of its own soul.

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Art by Siobhan McClure.

Also like art, dreams beg to be interpreted, and are perennially subjected to inquiries as to their meaning. It is true that the artist deliberately constructs a painting with varying degrees of intentionality; whereas the dreamer is understood to be at the mercy of their undirected subconscious mind. When it comes to the work of the three artists gathered for South Bay Contemporary's Dreaming the Real, this is a distinction without difference.

Nathan Huff, Siobhan McClure, and Eve Wood employ extremely diverse visual styles and techniques, yet each in their way makes very specific hay out of the problematic relationships between humanity, nature, and society -- beginning with wondering how and why these things are not perceived as being the same. Like the mind and body, the public and private self, the past and the future, the realms of man and nature are commonly considered at odds. And they can't help but wonder why, and with what consequence.

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Art by Nathan Huff.

Huff's choreography of animals and geometric, quasi-architectural abstraction look the most like thought experiments, as the mind is seduced into accepting a kind of cognitive dissonance through the subtle murmurs of his renderings. McClure's folk-inflected vernacular of vibrant colors and serene flatness speaks softly and warmly, yet her tableaux of aftermaths employ the imagery of massively destructive floods wreaking havoc on once-idyllic cities and towns, in an overtly allegorical storytelling mode recalling Picasso's oft-quoted assertion that, "We all know art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth." And finally, Wood's mythologically hybridized bird-people speak to humanity's increasingly distorted sense of itself, and to the individual's quest to reconcile the contradictions contained within who and what they are, and thereby find their place in the world.

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Art by Eve Wood.

These are works of art which posit alternative, impossible scenarios in which schisms in our perceptions are resolved, and everything exists and is experienced as integrated and simultaneous. Like dreams, they make sense at the time.

DREAMING THE REAL opens Saturday, March 5, 2016, with a preview reception during the March 3rd San Pedro Art Walk, and remains on view at SOUTH BAY CONTEMPORARY for the month.