MAY 17 - JUNE 22, 2007
Cavin-Morris Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of painted shields and other ceremonial art from the Highlands of New Guinea. This will be the first time a body of work this large will be presented in the New York area in a contemporary art setting.
The exhibition was curated with an eye toward visual drama and chosen to appeal to aficionados of Contemporary Art. The Highlands were one of the last areas in Papua New Guinea for contact and the art from the Highlands is more ephemeral and expressionistic than the more formally stylized work from the Sepik and other areas. Good examples of this are the two fascinating figures, one a helmet mask, the other a full figure, constructed mainly of lichen.
The bulk of the exhibition will be centered around nineteen visually arresting painted war-shields from the turn of, and through the midpoint of the Twentieth Century. There will also be three old shields over-painted with images of the comic book character, The Phantom, utilized as imagery because of his invulnerability and immortality. These are perfect examples of indigenous pop art.
Many of the shields are effective visually because the designs are extensions of the face-paint patterns used by the man wielding the shield. Despite the abstraction there is a connection to an intrinsically human iconography. The shield becomes an extension of the warrior’s material and non-material being.
For this reason the act of decorating the shield is an exclusive and ritual act often taking place in the bush or forest away from the impure elements of the settlement.
We will also be showing a selection of gourd masks used to combat disease, eared-snake pipes carved in wood, woven figures of spirits called Timbuwarri, and a rare grouping of Neolithic stone vessels.
We wish to thank Chris Boylan for his help and guidance in the presentation of this exhibition.