Please join us for the fourth exhibition at Kapow,
India Evans Love Is the Secret
June 29 - July 22, 2023
Show Extended through August 5th!
373 Broadway, #219
New York NY 10013
Show Extended through August 5th!
Love Is the Secret
This universal force is LOVE… Love is light that enlightens those who give and receive it.
When I became friends with John Evans (1932-2012), the Lower East Side artist and collagist, his daughter India was in Rome, managing the neat trick of following in his footsteps while pursuing her own vision. When I visited her recently she was living and working where he used to, in the tenement flat on East 3rd Street where she grew up. This included partnering with him to finish some paintings he had left incomplete. With so much change swirling around the neighborhood outside, it was nice to see the continuity of creation in her family home.
You don't just see India Evans' works, you enter them, drawn by a slightly illicit-feeling fascination, like you're sneaking into the underground temples of ancient Roman mystery cults. She often leads the eye down long hallways and dark passages that might open up to infinite vistas if we could follow them far enough. Released from their original settings, her antique nudes are free to entice and cavort to their own bacchic purposes. Hanging by their heels against a somber background, they could be acrobats, or victims of some form of punishment, or dangling fruit. At their most carnal they even wear the heads of other animals, becoming elemental and ineffable as Egyptian gods. Or they choose to speak in butterflies or birds.
Her images are tactile and layered, three-dimensional -- or maybe four, since time plays such a large hand in them. The lyrical language fragments she stitches into them can be like obscure inscriptions on broken monuments that occlude as much as they reveal. Maybe it's a dream language, at once surreal and familiar, earthy and numinous, holding keys to hidden mysteries. A young woman opens her legs at the center of a pattern that looks ancient and powerful, like a net of ley lines, or tribal tattoos. It seems an image of pure sex magic, but the inscription adds another dimension of meaning: my heart is the secret the universe is telling.
The fascination of collage is in the way the artist not only finds and repurposes existing images but translates them into something wholly new. It's a form of alchemy, if we see alchemy as a nexus where science and magic meet, transmuting base elements into something fine, the physical into spirit. Giordano Bruno would understand. So would Einstein. In the long, beautifully stitched inscription beginning "Love is light that enlightens," Evans quotes from a letter Einstein wrote to his daughter Lieserl, in which he wrote in part:
When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world…
There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.
This universal force is LOVE… Love is light that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.
For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love.
Love in many manifestations suffuses Evans' images. In the striking Mystic Realms, lovers embrace so passionately they fuse into a single holy monster.
Evans created the hallucinatory Bosch-like landscape in the remarkable triptych Mama Aya after an experience with the mind-altering substance ayahuasca. Does it show the ultimate destination of her adventurous imagination, or its source, the wellspring? Do those dark passages and hallways lead here? So much of the imagery and ideas seen in her other works comes together here in what looks like a psychedelic celebration at the end of the universe, fanciful animals and humans playing and dreaming and loving together. No doubt Bruno, the alchemist-heretic who was burned at the stake in Rome's Campo de' Fiori (very near where Evans lived), and Einstein, the poet-scientist who tricked out the embrace of space and time, would both appreciate this vision.
– John Strausbaugh