For April’s First Thursdays, we proudly reopened our doors in Chelsea with an expanded exhibition of Michele Basora’s artworks on canvas and paper. The exhibition, titled Out of the Sea and Into the Woods, features new work by the artist that explores, among other topics, the spaces between places and people. Birds’ eyes twist into each other, strong, ghostly women stare out of black, void-like backgrounds, and scattered geometric shapes create a complex dialogue between shape and form. In the front gallery space, seven large oil paintings are hung. The women depicted stare into their neighbors—and onlookers—with large, impenetrable eyes. Basora’s works on paper have been allotted their own stretch of gallery space. The cohesive effect adds an important contextualizing component to the exhibition: through their segregation, the paper and canvas works embody the show’s geographic dichotomy of sea and woods.
The opening brought together a diverse segment of the art-interested public: eager collectors, authors, artists and critics accompanied an ebullient general public through the doors. The opening’s inclusive atmosphere contrasted sharply with the artworks’ focus on societal exclusion and separation. Basora’s canvas works feature richly adorned women whose pale complexions reference the artist’s sense of estrangement from most of her Upper East Side neighbors. Several of Basora’s works feature deep black backgrounds that seek to consume their subjects even as the women’s ghostly features foreground their figures. In her works on paper, Basora’s emphasis on eyes remains. Much has been written about the correlation between eyes and gateways. As guests gazed into the myriad bird and human eyes around the gallery on Thursday, several took note of this thematic consistency across the pieces. “The eyes,” one said, “and Basora’s emphasis on them, are the counterbalances to the pieces’ alienated worlds.”