Linda Kunik – Disconnect @ Metro 417 Gallery – September 2015

What does it mean to hide behind a role? There are many social hierarchies that constitute our urban lives. What is it to recede like a chameleon, blending into this environment? Beautiful on the outside, we reflect what others expect. We secretly stuff away our deeper selves and our true identity. We have secret lives, darker, more complex, and yearning to be released. We are more of everything: more emotional, soulful, creative, young.

Linda Kunik’s recent exhibit, “Disconnect” had several beginnings. She played the role of good wife and mother and a part of her inner-self remained hidden for many years. Grounding herself in the vocabulary of painting, she eventually received an MFA from Otis College of Art and Design and since then has been fleshing out several bodies of work.

On a recent trip to Cuba, she visited San Severino Castle, a structure built in 1735, destroyed in 1762, and gradually restored over the last 20 years as part of a UNESCO project, a museum to document the slave route in Cuba and the history of slavery in the region, as well as to provide context to the diaspora of peoples from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Wandering through the many rooms of the castle, she found herself in the castle prison. The location was potent; past human suffering implied. As an artist she saw past this and found beauty hidden in the patina of the prison walls and was able to capture it and incorporate it into a new body of work.

Her paintings in “Disconnect” turn the surface pattern of the prison walls into a metaphor for hiding. The prison itself has a dark history of people disappeared behind its walls. Viewing the paintings and not knowing this, you are struck by the abstract quality of the images and you are invited to gaze closely and guess. You are left to figure out where the trompe l’oeil painting begins and ends. The matte surface of her paintings is an ocean open to contemplation and to interpretation.