Cover image of the review
Kieren Seymour, *Choose a Mask*, 2021, oil on canvas, 183 × 159 cm, courtesy the artist. Photo: Sigurvin Pálsson.

Kieren Seymour, Autism, Bitcoin and the Four Seasons

20 Mar 2021
Neon Parc 12 Mar - 17 Apr 2021

“O blushing sun, ashamed of my despair”, Phèdre cries, “Now, for the last time, I salute thy face”. Jean Racine’s 1677 dramatic tragedy follows the disgrace of its namesake Phèdre, who declares incestual love for her stepson Hippolytus. With the shame this brings, the older woman is consumed by a death wish so sour her desire turns to rage and betrayal. Daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, Phèdre’s patriarchal lineage is key to her pathological torment. Throughout human history the sun has been a Socratic allegory for goodness, vision and change, but it is because of Phèdre’s habitual avoidance of the downward gaze of the sun—“My face is hot, with my shame; / I cannot hide my guilty sufferings / And tears descend that I cannot restrain” —that we learn of the destructive power of the sun God and, through this, the power of taboo. While Racine deals with the more fundamental taboo of incest, Kieren Seymour’s Autism, Bitcoin and the Four Seasons, an exhibition of twenty-three recent oil paintings at Neon Parc in Brunswick uses seasonal motifs to confront the neurological taboo­: that of being “different”. In this collection of paintings, the sun is a recurring axis from which the transmuting bodies depicting ‘Bitcoin’ and ‘Autism’ take their energy and guidance. Sometimes these figures rest beneath the sun’s hovering gaze; at other times these symbols of economic progression and neurological divergence appear to enter or hide behind the sun’s fractalised surface.

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