The Mahavidyas and Fields of Ice

Jesse Bransford
Curated by Zahar Vaks
On View: April 21–May 20th, 2018

Opening Reception: Saturday April 21st,  6:00-9:00pm
Join us for the opening reception of this show which will coincide with the the release of Bransford's new book A Book of Staves published by Fulgur.

Discussion: Sunday May 6th, 5:00 pm
The Mahavidyas and the Divine Feminine with Jesse Bransford and Elizabeth Insogna, moderated by Pam Grossman.

Multi-Sense Story -
Tuesday, May 22, 7pm

Please join us  for an evening of multi-sensory storytelling event fusing painting, cooking, violin playing, and storytelling to create a synthesized narrative experience.
Featuring artwork, borsht, and stories by Zahar Vaks, A Washing away by Jesse Bransford, Challah Bread by Jonah Canner, and Violin playing by Yelena Vaks.

RSVP via Facebook.

Ortega y Gasset Projects presents The Mahavidyas and Fields of Ice, a solo exhibition by Jesse Bransford. April 21-May 20th, 2018. The exhibition will feature Bransford's paintings and drawings in conversation with a site-specific installation.

Feeling can lead to understanding. Other times, an understanding of something can hold certain emotions. Jesse Bransford‘s work does both simultaneously. His work elicits both understanding and an intuitive emotional response. Work is clear and lucid; one can experience it and say that they understand in that first moment of looking, yet over time the work becomes ambiguous: layered with subtle meaning and something that is beyond understanding.  

Jesse Bransford's The Mahavidyas and Fields of Ice works with two specific magical trajectories: the Mahavidyas and Icelandic folk magic. These works seek to articulate the intimate relationship between the creation of art and the working of magic. Bransford calls these works "spells" not paintings.  He describes his "spells" as having a hesitant and ephemeral quality resulting from the unforgiving medium of watercolor. Some of the works are direct manifestations of Iceland's land, using local well water and of a scale congruent with traveling in outdoor spaces. Bransford is highly aware of the power of color (he teaches color theory) and describes working with it as being a "synthesis of intuition and intellect. There is often too much of an attempt to make sense of color. Color is unpredictable. The magic lies in its visceral, pleasurable, and mysterious qualities; not verbal, not rational, and yet holding an internal logic." The color use in his "spells" takes on a language of its own, born of a deep engagement with the material. 

Yantra (यन्त्र) in Sanskrit literally "machine contraption" is a mystical diagram, mainly from the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions. They are used for the worship of deities in temples or at home; as an aid in meditation; used for the benefits given by their supposed occult powers based on Hindu astrology and tantric texts. They are also used for the adornment of temple floors, due mainly to their aesthetic and symmetric qualities. Specific yantras are traditionally associated with specific deities. (Wikipedia)

The Mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) are a group of ten aspects of the supreme feminine principle (Adi Parashakti) in Hinduism. Especially invoked in Tantric practices, these emanations depict the cosmic cycle of birth, evolution, death, and regeneration. For example, Bhuvanesvari is the fourth concept and is the universe at the apex of its development. The entire Universe is said to be her body and all beings are ornaments of her infinite being. (Wikipedia) Her yantra here is imagined as a radiant space of light in fullness with the lotus petals carrying the colors of the rainbow.

Jesse Bransford is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work is exhibited internationally at venues including The Carnegie Museum of Art, the UCLA Hammer Museum, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center and the CCA Wattis Museum among others. He holds degrees from the New School for Social Research (BA), Parsons School of Design (BFA) and Columbia University (MFA). An associate professor of art at New York University and the chair of the Department of Art and Art Professions, Bransford's work has been involved with belief and the visual systems it creates since the 1990s. Early research intocolor meaning and cultural syncretism led to the occult traditions in general and the work of John Dee and Henry Cornelius Agrippa specifically. He has lectured widely on his work and the topics surrounding his work and is the co-organizer of the biennial Occult Humanities Conference in New York.

 Zahar Vaks Is a visual artist based in New York, NY. He earned his BFA from Tyler School of Art, and his MFA from The Ohio State University. He has shown at the Leslie Heller Workspace and performed at the Henry street settlement in New York, The Contemporary Art Museum in Houston (CAMH), along with galleries in Philadelphia, Columbus, Las Vegas, Vienna Austria, Rome Italy, and on the island of Svalbard in Norway. Zahar attended the Galveston Artist Residency from 2012-2013. Currently, he is a member of the Ortega y Gasset Projects (OyG), an artist-run curatorial collective and exhibition space in Gowanus, Brooklyn. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York