Playing off the idea of synesthesia, or a “union of the senses,” Wayfarers is a selection of contemporary paintings that together might evoke a breezy, sun-soaked world. Summer is a time when sensory experiences can seem heightened— there is the smell of SPF, the sound of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” straining from a distant radio, the taste and texture of salt water taffy, the tickle of green grass underfoot, the start of a sunburn, an innocent sexual tension. These sensations and perceptions overlap and amplify each other, creating a distinctive mood.
With its exuberant colors, textures, and shapes, Wayfarers asks whether the primarily visual act of looking at paintings can become a similarly multi-sensory experience. In its simplest form, “true” synesthesia occurs when a stimulus to one sense simultaneously activates another; for example, a person may hear a sound and immediately see a corresponding color or shape. Though inspired by this perceptual phenomenon, the experience of Wayfarers is admittedly different—more evocative than clinical, it relies on metaphor, memory, and imagination to complete the circuit.
The featured artists use a broad spectrum of styles and forms, from the narrative and figurative to the wildly abstract and experimental. There are series of paintings that signal the passing of time, and others that probe the connections between labor and leisure. Music and books are another source of inspiration, as are playground games and childhood crafts. Even works that are purely abstract veer toward the carnivalesque, with canvases covered in lively biomorphic shapes or stained by popsicle-colored paints. Together these works build an atmosphere of sunlight and shadows, where the sounds, surfaces, and flavors of summer can come to the fore.
All Berman exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public