Full of haunting, gothic images the work of Michael Ramstead's show "Bygone", now on display at Thinkspace, speaks to our mythological past and our post-modern present. Each work sits at the nexus of several styles and movements fusing them all into a cohesive whole. For the piece entitled "Ariadne" Ramstead transports the ancient Greek heroine into a mythical American mid-west, with a farmstead as her fathers palace and the prairie as the Mediterranean sea complete with a ship. One can see the sorrow of her choice between the ties of family and love in her eyes with her famed magic thread twisting in her fingers. The colors of this work and the others in the show speak to a drained sepia tinted world long past its prime. There is a storybook illustration quality to each piece, belying the artists other occupation, and a feeling that we are not just looking at a single image but an entire world of which we get only this single glimpse. In a related piece to "Ariadne" we have "The Minotaur" pictured here as an english gentlemen at the center of a garden labyrinth. From his tweed suit to his melancholy face to his cloven hoof loafers this minotaur seems to be the contemporary man trapped in his own mind by society, realizing himself to be a beast. Ramstead's work seems to delight in uncanny juxtapositions (like a Minotaur in a suit) and surrealist images (like a murder of ravens as the wings of a scarecrow) that makes us look at our old myth tropes for the deeper psychological truths they were meant to represent. He sparks our sense of wonder and mystery, like a painterly companion to a story by Neil Gaiman Ramstead revives the images of fairy tales and ghost stories to speak to the deeper truths of our lives and leave us with a sense that deeper mysteries lie ahead.
"Bygone" runs through June 14th at Thinkspace Gallery.