Orange County Center for Contemporary Art | Santa Ana, CA
Curator Amy V. Grimm arrived in coffin carried by a hearse to speak to the artists and audience at the opening. Pallbearers included Derek Gunderson (front left) and O.C.C.C.A Executive Director Stephen Anderson (front right).
The Gothic genre is heavily influenced by late 18th century literature. During this time writers looked back to medievalism (such as Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy) and included fantastic tales that included atmospheric worlds, secret passageways, and screams in the dark. This type of literature was extremely popular at the time and writers within this genre included Anne Radcliffe, Bram Stroker, Mary Shelley and later Edgar Allen Poe. The visual art world was closely aligned to these writers with their shared interest in the supernatural and the horrifying. Visionary and idiosyncratic artists such as Gustave Doré, William Blake, Francisco de Goya, and Henry Fuseli come to mind with their psychologically expressive and erotic works of art.
Today the term Goth is also linked to a much larger sub-culture, of black clothed Goth enthusiasts (Gothicists) who enjoy the cross-pollination in the arts and who are major consumers of Goth culture. Musical groups such as The Cure, Crüxshadows, Siouxsie and the Banshees and many others fall into this dark and moody genre. Gothic visual expression is heavily influenced by comic books and graphic novels. In the comic book, The Crow, by James O'Barr we see O'Barr unleash his psychological pain with epic violence on each page that inspired a film adaptation of the same name. The film version of the Crow comic was a precursor to the successful film adaptation of Frank Miller's comic Sin City.
The merging of literature, film, music and the visual arts is the core strength of the Gothic subject. Each artist included in this exhibition approached the subject utilizing a wide range of materials often in very unique ways to address the exhibition's concept. Despite the eclectic nature of the exhibition, many consistent themes are addressed such as death, transformation, outsider status and physical and psychological trauma. The works reflect each artist's particular relationship to Goth. These visual expressions are the critical links to the past, present and future of this complex interdisciplinary genre. And, society's insatiable appetite for all things Gothic is testament to the need to understand and express the darkness that makes us human.
Amy V. Grimm
Art Historian & Independent Curator