Same Old Song is the first solo museum exhibition for Portland-based artist Srijon Chowdhury.
Same Old Song stages a dramatic climax of Chowdhury’s practice to date. At the exhibition’s core is an installation of six enormous new paintings, each of which centers on one sensory organ of the human head, including eyes, ears, nose, and a mouth that is thirty feet long.
The central facial feature in each piece frames or incorporates smaller images, which are sampled from Chowdhury’s previous paintings to create what the artist describes as an “alternative retrospective” of
his work. Conjuring up a mixture of cultural associations—from Christian church art to carnival attractions—the installation is the latest of Chowdhury’s projects to assume architectural dimensions.
The exhibition also includes a selection of the artist’s more intimately scaled recent paintings, along with the mural-sized canvas Pale Rider (2019) and a sculptural wrought-iron fence composed of text. Behind this barrier, the artist has placed Franz von Stuck’s iconic early twentieth-century painting Die Sünde (Sin) from the Frye’s Founding Collection.
The text of the fence also references artistic forebear William Blake, blending Blake’s poem A Divine Image (1804) with a protection spell written by Chowdhury in a monogram-like script drawn from medieval occult practices. Bringing this mystical intent to bear alongside paintings of epic proportion, Chowdhury tests the power of age-old symbols and art forms to compel in the modern world.
Same Old Song is accompanied by a full-color catalogue that presents an overview of the rising artist’s career and features essays by curator Amanda Donnan, art historian Mónica Belevan, and philosopher SJ Cowan.
Srijon Chowdhury highlights the structural role of symbolism in figurative painting, while making a direct address to the viewer that feels visceral, emotional, and personal. He is concerned with the psychic resonances that motifs can generate. Using a lexicon of still life art – animals, flowers, fruit, and candles – his canvases capture a sharp yet sensuous tension between mystery and revelation, and between fear and hope.
Chowdhury refigures the world around us in emotive scenes that mine the history of representation. He combines both Realist and Symbolist tendencies in his application of a mythical overlay to domestic stories. Color, both vivid and muted, washes over his scenes to hypnotic effect; always in the foreground, color acts as a central protagonist in his work. He has said: “Color affects a person viscerally and quickly. I think about the chakras which begin with crimson that root us to this reality and this body.
Solo exhibitions include: Same Old Song, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2022); Srijon Chowdhury, Ciaccia Levi, Paris, France; Dandelion Song, Foxy Production, New York, NY (both 2021); Srijon Chowdhury, Foxy Production, New York, NY (2020); A Divine Dance, Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA (2019); Before Dreams, Antoine Levi, Paris, France; The Coldest Night, Upfor, Portland, OR; and Endings, The Art Gym,
Marylhurst, OR (all 2018).