SAINT AND SINNERS: THE INFERNAL NOW
Curator: Janet Batet
A collaborative project to support the Camillus House art program with the endorsement by 2b Non Profit
January 26 — February 28, 2023
Dot Fiftyone Gallery in collaboration with 2bnonprofit is proud to present David Rohn’s solo show at the gallery curated by Janet Batet to benefit the Camillus House Organization.
We know the verse by heart: “there is nothing new under the sun.” History is not a linear progression but a cyclic repetition. This path might be a vicious dead-end circle or a redemptive spiral if looking at ourselves in the mirror of the soul when revisiting the past. This is the starting point for Saints and Sinners. The Infernal Now, the most recent exhibition by David Rohn.
The Divine Comedy, simply called Comedy by its author, is an epic poem that portrays, like no other, human nature. Striking parallels between Florence, the growing metropolis of 14th century, and our contemporary global society where extreme polarization of political factions, pressing societal issues, intolerance, gentrification, defensive walls, and illnesses ravaging our existence, explain this new journey into Hell and back.
Like Dante himself, Rohn is a pilgrim. His journey takes place as an outcast traversing that ever growing -and invisible to the eye- dark woods that are the pilasters of Miami's highways. Consciously, and for many years now, Rohn has displaced his artistic practice from the gallery into the streets. Self-portraiture and interactive performances in the urban dystopian landscape have become the sympathetic unfolding of the self that restores the dignity of the invisible people in our city. People perceived as mere stereotypes, most of the time pictured as sinners, when they are nothing but the victims of pretend saints, those who hold and define the structure of power.
Rohn’s artistic practice has been coupled over the years with direct intervention helping the homeless population and teaching art at Homeless and Recovery institutions in Miami. Saints and Sinners. The Infernal Now is a collaborative show with his art students from the Camillus House.
Structured in three sections, like the Divine Comedy itself, The Infernal Now uses the entrance of the gallery as a transitional space, a sort of limbo that prepares the viewer for the journey ahead. The main gallery houses the nine Dantesque circles, each of them in direct interaction with artworks from the Camillus House students, who like Dante, Rohn, and ourselves, are facing their own fears.
Making use of photography, self-portrait, and collage, David Rohn recreates intricate passages where history, myths, literature, symbolism and references to Art History are interwoven into a thorny fable of our time. Like Dante, Rohn prefers the use of popular culture materials (glitter, graffiti, color pencils, discarded materials) and atypical scenarios (urban edge spaces like freeway underpass, parking lots, mall entrances, Fast food restaurant exteriors). Gravitating around each of the circles in a growing rhizomatic structure are the artworks from the Camillus House students.
The main gallery is a recreation of Plato’s "Allegory of the Cave”. Prisoners of our own stereotypes, we barely see shadows and act with fear derived from our own preconceptions that prevent us from knowing the other. Every half hour strange characters appear among the audience. The omnipresence of death makes us aware of the fragility of life and our role as activators of our free will and social change.
The last space is reserved for the pantheon of the Saints and Sinners, a transfigured gallery of that growing group of invisible people discarded by the social power structure.
Saints and Sinners. The Infernal Now is a cautionary tale about the risks of irrational fears, selfishness, and intolerance in our times. A poetic journey of self-awareness where the eternal cycles of decay and rebirth are enlightened by the knowledge, and subsequent action as the only path to redemption.
In the gallery project room will be on view a curated selection of artwork by the Camillus House art students.
About David Rohn:
David Rohn grew up in New Jersey and Long Island, suburbs of NYC and studied art and urbanism at Colgate University and NYU, and later Architecture at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris and Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Rohn worked in NYC in Architecture and Design, where he began painting in the early 1980s. Later he returned to Paris in 1989, where he continued to paint and exhibit at Galerie Julien Pellat, Le Salon de Montrouge. La Masse des Beaux Arts, Paris.
In 1992 Rohn moved to Miami, where he also started writing about art, exhibiting at Bianca Lanza and later Carol Jazzar Contemporary, and developing socially-reflective and interactive installation and performative art projects, from which his (self)-Portraiture series’ emerged in 2008. And later, street figures began in 2017 after his Miami gallery closed.
Rohn has exhibited and been reviewed widely in South Florida over the past 25 years, including virtually all the local/regional museums, alternative spaces and galleries, and many publications. He has also exhibited occasionally in New York, LA and Berlin.
More recently, Rohn’s (self) portraiture has morphed into constructions using cast-off / found objects, photography, and painting, intended to reflect contemporary ’ throw-away culture and fatal consumerism.
His interest in art history and extended stays in France and Italy continue to affect his work and catalyze a conscious effort to dialogue with art and artists of the past as the series based on Dante’s Inferno and the series of Catholic Saints attest.
Rohn’s work has been included and widely reviewed at many galleries and museums in S. Florida, New York, and L.A. and continues performative collaborative projects individually and with Partner Danilo de La Torre, (and other collaborators) under the LaboMamo Collab (www.labomamo.com), and his self-portrait-based, unofficial public art projects.
Saints and Sinners. The Infernal Now, the most recent solo show by David Rohn, invited students from his Art therapy classes at Camillus House, giving them the opportunity to share their voices and create meaning and identity. All proceeds will benefit the Camillus House program through 2b Non-Profit.
Camillus House has provided humanitarian services to the indigent and homeless populations of Miami-Dade County, Florida for more than 50 years.