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New York gallery Venus Over Manhattan is presently displaying “Retinal Hysteria,” an arresting and thought-provoking exhibition curated by the distinguished Robert Storr. Spanning from November 16, 2023, through January 13, 2024, this extensive exhibition occupies two locations at 39 and 55 Great Jones Street. The opening event, occurring on November 16th, attracted an enthusiastic audience keen to experience this significant artistic initiative.

Robert Storr, previously a Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art and Dean of the Yale University School of Art, has crafted an exhibition that revisits and elaborates upon the themes of the notable 2001–2002 exhibition “Eye Infection” at the Stedelijk Museum. Curated by Jan Christiaan Braun, “Eye Infection” gained acclaim for its candid portrayal of the less appealing aspects of contemporary life, merging precise artisanship with bold vulgarity.

Featuring works by more than forty artists, “Retinal Hysteria” includes pivotal figures from “Eye Infection” such as R. Crumb, Jim Nutt, and Peter Saul. Accompanying them is a varied collection of historical and contemporary artists, ages spanning from 32 to 89, united by their dedication to what Storr terms “disorienting intensity.” Nearly a quarter-century subsequent to “Eye Infection,” this exhibition reflects a profound contemplation and expansion of its themes in the current era.

The artworks presented, many debuting publicly and created specifically for this exhibition, are designed to unsettle and challenge. They encapsulate Storr’s perception of a world in disarray, testing the viewer’s perspective and engaging them with an array of profound emotions. The collection surpasses stylistic categories and chronological constraints, focusing instead on the depth of experience and artistic expression.

Storr’s conception of “Retinal Hysteria” is shaped by a comprehensive understanding of hysteria, which he defines as “ungovernable emotional excess.” The show not only considers this concept historically but also examines its impact on vision and perception, especially under the strain of current traumatic circumstances. The exhibition presents a vibrant collection of imagery, vibrating with a spectrum of emotions from panic and unbridled anger to laughter and the dizzying sensation of living in a world oversaturated with stimuli.

“Retinal Hysteria” extends beyond being a mere art exhibition; it is an in-depth investigation into the human experience at its extreme. It compels viewers to test the limits of their emotional and perceptual boundaries, portraying a world that, in H.C. Westermann’s words, one of the featured artists, has “gone nuts.”


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