Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Madame Psychosis Holds a Séance, Rosson Crow’s third exhibition with the gallery. A reception will be held at the gallery on November 7, 2015 from 5-8pm.
Rosson Crow’s new work explores the fictional world of Madame Psychosis, an aging showgirl obsessed with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Crow’s striking and mysterious protagonist—whose name is derived from David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest and is a play on the term “metempsychosis”, also known as reincarnation—is a character whose sense of herself is inextricably bound up with the events and conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy’s death. Comprising a short film and a series of paintings, Crow’s new project explores individual psychology and the ways in which national identity is shaped around moments of historical significance. Giving rise to countless alternative accounts and conspiracy theories, the events of November 22, 1963 are etched into the American cultural consciousness and are still enmeshed in a web of confusion and contradiction more than fifty years later. In this exhibition, Crow employs this charged event as a narrative device to engage questions of individual identity, the power of emotion to confuse our sense of reality, and the human desire to connect to shared pasts while establishing relevance in the present.
The centerpiece of Madame Psychosis Holds a Séance is Crow’s first film. While Crow has often explored narrative in her paintings, this is the first time she is manifesting her interest in the concepts of historical narrative and its psychological dimensions on film. Starring Kelly Lynch in the titular role, the film was written and directed by Crow who used her paintings as both backdrops and inspiration for set décor that she designed and created. The film follows the story of Madame Psychosis as she struggles with her connection to reality and questions her place in the world. Defining her identity through an iconic American tragedy, Madame’s preoccupation with Kennedy’s assassination obscures her true identity so much that she becomes convinced she is the reincarnation of the so-called “Babushka Woman”, a key witness in the events surrounding Kennedy’s death. A séance is the only way to unlock the truth. As Madame descends deeper into her confusion, the environments she occupies become increasingly surreal. Anchored by Crow’s immersive paintings, the sets reflect Madame’s fraught psychology.
Conceived as integral to the aesthetic and narrative of the film, the series of paintings is based on Crow’s imagination of the psychological spaces and physical environments of Madame Psychosis. Veering toward monochrome, the works engulf the viewer not just within their large scale but within their color palettes. Bright and bold, the colors’ persistence expands the perceptual space of the paintings, while occasional instances of contrasting and complimentary hues provide visual punctuation and offer viewers a way to navigate through the complicated compositions. For these new paintings, Crow used a transfer process to add a collage effect that increases the illusion of depth while also calling attention to the paintings’ surfaces. As with much of Crow’s work to date, these paintings recall the grand tradition of history painting in their scale and complexity. However, figures are absent: Empty rooms and gardens act as metaphors for psychological and emotional states of the characters she envisions occupying the spaces and for the cultural conditions that yield alienation among individuals.
Rosson Crow was born in 1982 in Dallas, Texas and lives in Los Angeles. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2004 and a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University in 2006. Honor Fraser Gallery has presented two previous exhibitions of her work: Ballyhoo Hullabaloo Haboob (2012); and Night at the Palomino (2008). One-person exhibitions of her work have been presented at Musée Régional d’Art Contemporain de Sérignan, France (2014); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2010); and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Forth Worth, TX (2009). Her work has been included in thematic exhibitions such as Contemporary Magic: A Tarot Deck Art Project, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA (2011); Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (2010); Le Meilleur des Mondes, Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, Luxembourg (2010); New York Minute, Macro Future Museum, Rome, Italy (2009); and Out of Storage I – Painters Choose from the Collection, Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, Luxembourg (2008).