The Garden of Forking Paths
September 7th to October 14th, 2021
"I leave to the various futures (not to all) my garden of forking paths."
Almost instantly, I understood: "The garden of forking paths" was the chaotic novel; the phrase "the various futures (not to all)" suggested to me the forking in time, not in space.
- Jorge Luis Borges
Sunny NY is delighted to present The Garden of Forking Paths, a solo exhibition by Canadian artist Shawn Kuruneru. The artist has produced a new body of his characteristic “Shape” paintings, turning up the color temperature in this iteration of the series, in effect employing a whole new approach to his work through a dramatic shift in palette. Fresh dimensions of space are unearthed by these paintings, which preserve Kuruneru’s powerful use of graphically delineated, irregular forms, splayed across the rectangular surface, in durable but flexible compositions. The visual impact and gestalt of each piece is self-evident the moment the eye settles on its surface, and is then moved along by deft spatial phrasing, as always - but now also animated by controlled chromatic bursts and fields of zinging color.
Kuruneru has a wry, skillful knack for compressing his multivalent influences into outwardly simple, inwardly complex artistic outcomes. At first the “Shape” paintings read like straightforward, beautiful, lyrical abstractions, with a clear family tree in Modernist painting. But they tip the viewer off, slowly but convincingly, that formalism isn’t their only concern, and that no one visual approach can cover their artistic identity. The exhibition title, The Garden of Forking Paths, is taken from a Jorge Luis Borges story, and can be understood as a straightforward descriptor of the paintings - each in itself is a “garden” with many paths, forking and otherwise, running through its pictorial matrix.
But the phrase also locates the conceptual gambit of the work, folding a synchronic approach to time and space that recalls Analytical Cubism and all-over abstraction in with classical Chinese landscape painting, and perhaps even something that approaches a physics or phenomenology of abstract pictorial depiction. Kuruneru isn’t leaning too heavily on the viewer to see all of these things immediately, or to absolutely accept their presence, but just to become aware of their possibility, of the fact that all of these many modes of knowledge have informed the clear and pleasurable painting outcome we confront in each piece.
The artist’s own multicultural and multinational backgrounds have long spurred and suggested to him a starting point within his artistic research, for an investigation into how to simplify and present a wide range of highly diverse and significant origin points. Synthesized into a well-tempered whole in this exhibition, each of these “Forking Paths” presents a different, completed response to this challenge.