With Burden of Innocence Husar takes her lifelong obsession with painting and with Ukraine, her ancestral home, into new territory and presents three interwoven, unresolved narratives in the form of a history play in three acts. In the artist’s words: “A braid without an elastic on the end”.
In Act 1, Husar, disguised as her alter-egos, Nurse and Stew, addresses the surrogate dependency between painter and subject and the anachronistic limbo of painting today. The exhibition at Douglas Udell Gallery takes an excerpt from Act 1 with the painting Ukraine and Me to introduce the two alter-egos who play pivotal roles in the succeeding narratives, Trial and Banquet.
Act 2’s Trial is a social narrative conceived in terms of art’s power to bring things to light if not to justice. Though it deals with fictitious characters, it is a form of contemporary history painting. Old Soviet-style and new-capitalist corruption collide in the collective of fictive portraits: the wheeler-dealer thugs who are put on trial not as an accusation but as a record of the cultural and psychological damage they have sustained. A series of painted-over book covers whose titles compose a poem extend the narrative. The day of reckoning is depicted as a nocturnal, apocalyptic traffic jam in which the nurse halts the cars, an old woman weighs the drivers, and the stewardess records their burden of guilt or innocence.
Act 3 presents Banquet in a time warp: Husar merges 1960’s North American 60s with a depiction of contemporary Ukraine. The protagonists from the first and second acts are united in the cumulative canvas, Looking at Art. Husar, cast as her dual personae, plays the waiter in her examination of the artist’s role and art’s responsibility vis à vis the social narrative.