Last weekend I paid a visit to the gallery space Warehouse 623 in Brooklyn to catch Alexis Karl’s multimedia exhibition “Mythological Evolution” before it closed. I’ve known Alexis for eight years or so. We first met when she was presenting her fragrance line Scent by Alexis at Henri Bendel, and I was immediately charmed by her fragrances and her overall style.
This exhibition, which ran from May 3 through May 24, brought together Alexis’ work in sculpture, painting, video, music, and fragrance. Its conceit was an alternative theory of evolution that involved lots of ruined (and re-emerging) civilizations, hybrid beings, and otherworldly transformations.
The first gallery, “Hall of Celestial Transformation,” was installed with several large-scale paintings of woman-animal and woman-tree beings, as well as a number of massive urns filled with bones, ashes, and minerals—and fitted with pairs of antlers.
My favorite works in the room (and perhaps in the entire show) were these horned skulls encrusted with crystals and semi-precious stones.
Also in the first space, a self-portrait by Alexis overlooked a small set of shelves displaying tiny bird skulls ornamented with gems, as well as crystal-studded perfume flaçons.
Here’s a better shot of the scent bottles:
Alexis also created two fragrances for this project and had them diffused throughout the galleries. Dark Matter, an earthy blend of resins and amber, scented the first room; The Exquisite Inevitable, a floral blend, perfumed the air of the third room. (I really liked The Exquisite Inevitable.)
In the second room, “Tomb of Forgotten Reliquaries,” more skulls—this time, decorated entirely in clear quartz—led the way to a screen showing a short film titled “Darwin’s Nightmare.”
The third and last gallery space, “Salon of the Exquisite Inevitable,” included several more paintings, a floor sculpture of botanical elements and skulls, and a video accompanied by vocals by Alexis and music by her bands, Ondyne’s Demise and Anima Animus Animal.
All in all, the exhibition was an immersive experience and an aesthetic treat for anyone who shares Alexis’s Gothic sensibility. I hope she’ll have the opportunity to do something like this again soon.
For more information (and much better photographs!), check out the Mythological Evolution Tumblr here. Also: Alexis will be teaching a course on contemporary art and perfume at the School of Visual Arts this summer, and you can read more about it here.
Images: not-very-good photos by Tinsel Creation.