With The Magic Mirror, Black & White Gallery/Project Space is presenting works by Shimon Okshteyn (b.1951, lives in New York).

The solo show features recent body of work where the artist reflects on a world without personal boundaries and social taboo. Executed in a traditional genre of still life, Okshteyn's extraordinary mimetic accuracy and signature blunt renditions of drug use and attendant paraphernalia only serve to heighten the indeterminacy of meaning that permeates his work. The paintings are structured as pictorial compositions whose realism is given a new meaning by the mirror on which each one is painted creating a highly subjective space marked by tension and melancholy.

Focused on a tension between the visible and the invisible: the thoughts and concerns that echo of memories and emotions in us, Okshteyn employs a simple but impeccable technique of oil painting on mirror to suggest a dynamically invasive sense of self-monitoring, distortion and splintering of the self under pressure. The work addresses the bearing down on what it means to be real, looking at oneself in the mirror as if for the first time and acknowledging the remorseless encroachment of aging.

Shimon Okshteyn's visual world is unusually stimulating because its fastidious craftsmanship, strong compositional formats and unusual mixtures of materials lead to an inner world whose range is as complex as it is unpredictable and varied. His well-informed appropriationist tendencies are abetted by the artist's urge towards classical traditions that balance gloomy introspection against outward looking strength. Add to this a coherent yet surprising use of thematic material, a richness of invention, and a systematized build up of narrative - all of these aspects make Okshteyn's work irresistibly attractive to the eye - a haptic feast laced with metatonic power.

(Dominique Nahas)