June 2019

Parallel Botany | Brian Dunn
棒渣 | Bang zha | Ellen Xu

Hamiltonian Gallery presents two new exhibitions by artists Ellen Xu and Brian Michael Dunn. “棒渣 | Bang Zha”and “Parallel Botany” will be on view from June 29 - August 3, 2019, with an opening reception on Saturday, June 29 from 7 - 9 pm and an artist talk on Tuesday, July 16 at 7 pm.

Borrowing its name from a field guide to imaginary plants by Leo Lioni, “Parallel Botany” is an exploration into the intersection of nature and consumer culture. Influenced by textiles, early botanical drawing and musical sequencing, Brian Dunn’s paintings lure the viewer into a place existing between graphic pattern and representational space where nature and consumer culture are arranged in an oscillating quilt of coded imagery. Repetition is employed and then upset, patterns constructed, then defied by layered anomalies to create disorienting spaces based in logic. By reducing botanical forms to their most symbolic geometry, Dunn manufactures a style rooted in the history of painting and uses it to represent contemporary pleasure production and allude to more sinister forms human intervention: look closely and you may find a broken bottle, a pile of cash.  Everything is interwoven, visually and conceptually doubling; sunglasses stand in for ‘culture’ and mirror a viewer in the act of looking, and flowers and butterflies are decidedly un-sentimental. Halftone dots act as signifiers of mechanical reproduction and advertising, alluding to the overarching structure of the space inside the painting. “Parallel Botany” draws you in with colorful interplay and keeps you looking through gradually revealed moments of query, discovery, and association.

Brian Michael Dunn (b. 1982 Milwaukee, WI) received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting from Boston University and a Masters of Fine Art from Cornell University. Dunn received a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 2019 and was awarded a Mid-Atlantic Arts Council Fellowship to attend the Millay Residency, a Pollack-Krasner Fellowship to attend the Woodstock-Byrdcliffe Residency and the Ellen Stoeckel-Battel Fellowship to attend the Yale-Norfolk Summer Program. Dunn’s work has been exhibited in galleries across the region including Terrault (Baltimore), Nudashank (Baltimore), Automat (Philadelphia), Woskobb Family Gallery (PA) Fjord (Philadelphia), Creative Arts Workshop (New Haven) Gary Snyder Project Space (NYC), Fordham University Lipani Gallery (NYC), Hundred Forsyth (NYC), Public Address Gallery (NYC) and Ventana244 (NYC).

At a distance painfully small and detailed circles cluster, assembling a map. In “棒渣 | Bang Zha” artist Ellen Xu renders a multidimensional survey of time and space with calculated logic. Through detailed illustrative drawing a narrative is pieced together through a series of scenes depicting an alternate reality. The character “Bang Zha” attempts to abscond the complicated and often grotesque realities of existence and learns these are inescapable. What do we see in this hyphenated reality? Genderless bodies, elongated and transformed, industrial pipelines, pathways and portals: Through indiscriminate metamorphosese of bodies to objects, there is a soft violence afoot coupled by genuinely candid questioning of boundaries and personhood. Accompanying this expedition are large fleshy abstract paintings that reflect a sense of inner simplicity amongst the chaos of identity, physicality and the navigation of the world, real or imagined. “棒渣 | Bang Zha” is an escapist journey in and out of worlds, guided by an existential sense of humor.


Ellen (Jing) Xu (b. 1987) and raised in Inner Mongolia, China. She received a dual degree from Xiamen University, China; her MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle; and has also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Madison, ME. Her work has been exhibited at the ROY G BIV Gallery in Columbus, OH; the Seattle Art Museum, Soil Gallery, Interstitial Gallery, and Jacob Lawrence Gallery in Seattle; the Blue Door Art Center in Yonkers, NY; 435 Broome in SoHo, NYC; the Kaufman Arts District in Queens, NYC; Sculptureworks Ferguson in St. Louis, MO; the Helmuth Project in San Diego, CA; and others. Ellen has had residencies at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT; Paul Artspace in St. Louis, MO; and the Wassaic Artist Residency in Wassaic, NY. She was also a Media Arts Fellow at BRIC in Brooklyn, NY.





June 29-August 3, 2019

Opening Reception
Saturday, June 29, 7 - 9 pm

Artist Talk
Tuesday, July 16, 7pm


Hamiltonian Artists:

Brian Dunn

Ellen Xu