As the blooms of spring emerge, so does a fresh wave of artistic brilliance in the heart of New York City.
P·P·O·W is pleased to present Years of Bad Hair, Hortensia Mi Kafchin’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Imbuing a highly classical painting style with her own mythologies, fairytales, and belief systems, Kafchin’s avatars traverse time, space, and reality to reach states of self-transformation and liberation. Hybridity, a central tenet of Kafchin’s practice, is innately tied not only to her transition from male to female, but also to her upbringing in a post-Communist and post-Chernobyl Romania in which an influx of Western culture intertwined with deeply rooted Eastern Orthodoxy and Medieval traditions. Akin to alchemical experiments, Kafchin’s canvases combine the male and female, the East and West, the traditional and contemporary, and the scientific and spiritual, to create dialectic formulas which together reveal the power of the imagination as a divine and uniting force.
Viewing her compositions as journals of thoughts, feelings, dreams, and experiences, Kafchin, in Years of Bad Hair, chronicles a hero’s journey, not to conquer, but to survive. Her quest is aided by scientific and technological advancement that is at once philosophical and mystical. In Years of Bad Hair Day, 2022-2023, Kafchin paints herself as both celestial scientist and cursed princess in desperate search of the perfect transition spell. Surrounded by a vibrating clutter of various hair growth serums, hormone blockers, estrogen pills, and beauty tools, she gazes up towards her hair covered brush as if it were a looking glass revealing the inescapabilty of both time and biology. Inscribed on her back between a pair of rainbow angel wings are various sigils which act as navigational tools: the transgender symbol becomes a compass, the Eastern cosmological symbol of the ying-yang sits between a sun and moon, and the ancient Western ouroboros is depicted as a clock. Here Eastern and Western traditions seamlessly intertwine to aid Kafchin in her journey towards transformation and immortality.
For Kafchin, technological advancement is the spiritual destiny of the human evolution, to transform our vessels, overcome the human condition, and create new realities. In monumental paintings such as Mother of Singularity, 2022-2023, Kafchin reveals her vision of a utopian techno-future born out of humanity’s current struggles and suffering. An alien civilization of our own making, the technological sublimity depicted in this composition is matriarchal, non-violent, dualistic, harmonious, and based in Taoist philosophy. In a contemporary landscape, where a given reality can be hard to comprehend, such works invite viewers to embark on a futuristic odyssey in which the regenerative fuel of the human imagination becomes our salvation. To quote David Wojnarowicz, “Hell is a place on earth, Heaven is a place in our head.”
Hortensia Mi Kafchin (b. 1986) is a Romanian contemporary artist living and working in Cluj, Romania, and Berlin, Germany. Her work can be found in collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Collection Deutsche Telekom, Bonn, DE; and the Ludwig Museum, Köln, DE. Kafchin has presented solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, RO; Galerie Judin, Berlin, DE; Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; BWA SOKÓŁ Gallery, Nowy Sącz, PL; Art Encounters Foundation, Timișoara, RO; Lyles & King, New York, NY; Museum of Art, Cluj, RO, among others. Kafchin has also taken part in many group exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; New Museum, New York, NY; Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, AT; Prague Biennale, Prague, CZ; La Kunsthalle Mulhouse, Paris, FR; La Triennale, Paris, FR; Espace Niemeyer, Paris, FR; Espace Louis Vuitton, Paris, FR, among others.