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The Eyes Have All the Seeming of a Demon's That is Dreaming

Sonya Derviz
Curated by SaYori Radda

21 September - 29 October, 2022

Daniel Benjamin Gallery is pleased to present The eyes have all the seeming, of a demon’s that is dreaming,  an exhibition of paintings by Sonya Derviz. 

- "It harbours within it an excess, a rapture, a potential of associations that overflows all the determinations of its ‘reception’ and ‘production’.” Jean-François Lyotard, Critical Reflections (1991)


- “The eerie… is constituted by a failure of absence or by a failure of presence… [It] concerns the unknown; when knowledge is achieved, the eerie disappears.” Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie (2016)


In his essay “The Aesthetics of Affect”, Simon O’Sullivan makes visible the importance of the affect of an artwork in relation to its “…intensive quality, as [what] goes on beneath, beyond and even parallel to signification,” describing this deterritorialising affect as an event or happening, operating as a fissure in representation. He states that this affect is a “…function of transformation [that is] less involved in making sense of the world and more involved in exploring the possibilities of being, of becoming, in the world.” The unsettling depictions of otherworldly beings in the work of Sonya Derviz explore such eerie fissures, through what Mark Fisher referred to as neither absent nor present, in The Weird and the Eerie.


As bystanders we are caught up in an interminable unsettling event, not unlike the phantasmic extra-terrestrial figures in the work of Derviz, engaged in an inhospitable dialogue among themselves. Are we welcome here? On entering the gallery, spectral and grotesque facial expressions in the Wise Girls series cast their ill-boding glance on the ferocious metamorphosis of a butterfly transmuting into a spider facing them. At the far end of the gallery looms a gloomy, yellow-eyed pale figure with piercingly sharp fangs in Energy Vampire (Wise young girls). As it glares devouringly yet seductively at the pale-skinned chimerical figure opposite in Energy Vampire, the artist’s affiliation with Carl Theodor Dreyer’s pastiche “Vampyr” becomes apparent.


Depicted through fading pale colours, the figures in Wise Girls descend illuminatingly from a liminal dark plane, as if suspended in an eruptive momentum of appearance. Energy Vampire (Wise young girls) depicts two ethereal creatures in a boundless state of becoming; floating or erupting in what Mark Fisher would describe as an “…undetermined interzone, a semi-abstract space.” Derviz may begin by materialising her painting through memory, familiar faces or references to visual cultures, but she then enters uncharted territory: It is a repetitive process of “letting go” and accepting the intuitive relationship between a fleeting subconscious and the materiality of the painting, or as she states, “losing that sense of familiarity, finding something new.”


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