Le Rêve Américain

ATM Gallery, New York, New York

02.25.2023 → 04.02.2023

Le Rêve Américain

Tessa Perutz

with Dream Fountain by Nick Atkins

Notes on Regaining my American Identity after Living Abroad

Figure Painting is still so en vogue these days. Understandably so, painting to encapsulate the seduction and possession of the human form, who wouldn’t want to get at it.

The mirrors within the space function similarly, absorbing the image of the viewer in real time and re-projecting it, as though every visitor is painting their own self-portrait in my exhibition. The freedom is yours.

The works on paper throughout the space have been carried with me – drawn from life, in plein air. They are the culmination of many years of personal exploration throughout Europe, the observation of my environs, succumbing to it. Mother Earth spinning around me, myself capturing small glimpses along the way.

I chose the title Le Rêve Américain for it’s proximity to this feeling of disillusionment towards The American Dream of our parents’ generation, the USA-bred concept of hard work and perseverance bringing success to those who sacrifice their lives to it, which has since morphed into an ethos of pure fantasy.

As the American abroad I had a sense of pertinence in documentation. I said if Trump was elected in 2016 I would leave the country, and I did just that. I spent 4 years exhibiting and experiencing life as a foreigner in Europe, mostly in Belgium but also in residencies in Berlin, Switzerland, and the south of France.

My time abroad marked a period of broad personal and artistic exploration, into previously unchartered territory in my practice. My painterly approach dispersed in a multitude of directions – onto varied supports, with a plethora of mixed-in materials, incorporated in full installations.

Synchronized dissonance and fissures all around, the ideas fell through. That which started on the floors – ended up on the walls, and vice versa.

Flash forward beyond this whirlwind of metamorphosis to now – me back in America.

Bringing us to our current exhibition, full of fantastical effects and Nick’s Dream Fountain, a wishing well in which water spouts from objects such as fruits, busts of statues, jack-o-lanterns and glazed pastries, pooling into a black reflective lagoon below. On the surface, it presents a kooky-fun auspicious experience, a catchy jingle over the deeper criticism of American consumerism and instant success stories.

Usually I include herbal or botanical interventions in my exhibitions, marked by inclusion of elements that enact our olfactory responses, such as teas or aromatic florals. This exhibition is more tied to New York City, with hard-edged and reflective materials; casting tricks in the realm of seduction.

We built this exhibition upon auspiciousness, might we invite you to test your luck ? By throwing a coin in the fountain, you may just procure a better tomorrow.