The gallery is pleased to present Romantic Agony, a group show featuring work by Ion Birch, Doron Langberg, Jacques Louis Vidal and Summer Wheat.

“The stirrings within us have their own fearful excesses.” – Georges Bataille

Borrowing its title from the seminal text by Mario Praz, a treatise on sensuality in Romantic literature, the exhibition explores a debauched vision of the erotic in art that does away with any idealized notions of the body or the pleasures it seeks. Collected here are works that explore a darker strain of sexuality. Unapologetically carnal and verging on the grotesque, these artists subvert the overwhelming tendency to tame and aestheticize the sexual act. They capture instead, sexual energy en brute, a state of ecstatic convulsion and chaos.

The work in Romantic Agony is fleshly but never gratuitous. Whereas in the past, tastefulness trumped truth and steered clear of shock value, these artists have discarded societal and moral considerations to depict that which the Romantics, turning to exalted landscapes and natural phenomenon, sought to depict: the sublime. Here it appears on a personal, human scale, to defend that the body too can sense, register, create and convey breathtaking intensity.

Installation View: Romantic Agony, Horton Gallery, Chelsea

Installation View: Romantic Agony, Horton Gallery, Chelsea


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