turnturnturnturn, Mosie Romney’s third solo exhibition with Nicodim and their first in Bucharest, presents ten paintings unearthing timelessness through experimentations and expectation in worldbuilding and character formation. Each painting revels in the telling of its story as much as the meat of the story itself, they are celebrations and ruminations on the afterfuture: the art of storytelling even takes its name from the infamous Outkast song “Da Art of Storytellin’, Part 1.” While detailed motifs and rich symbolism appear in several paintings creating a throughline in the exhibition, each work commands its own stage. This originality is made all the more striking through the lavish worlds Romney builds by projecting images and drawings atop the canvas using a succession of emotive gestures to depict real and imagined locations. Movie stills, photographic scenes from life, and screenshots capture moments in time crystallized in their imagination.
Inspired by the profundity of metaphysical artists like Giorgio de Chirico, the mystery and freedom of nightlife, and the emotional response that colors elicit, Romney's latest exhibition manifests itself in a series of contrasting hues of burgundys, reds, oranges, blues, and various shades of black, leaving expansive room for interpretation. Works do not require an over-explanation to be understood, Romney offers viewers the autonomy to interpret the works for themselves. The paintings focus on quiet contemplation and grace as much as anger and struggle, moments of tranquility in eventless spaces that overhang the imminent highs and lows. Lions, symbolizing untamed ferocity, power, and strength appear in courtyard to the techno (2022), the art of storytelling (2022), and survival research laboratory (2022). the belly of the beast (2022)features the monk bug—Romney’s newly developed character, a chamelonesque creature that blends with its surroundings—whose head is submerged in the gaping mouth of a golden lion.
The exhibition title draws its name from Nina’s Simone’s version of the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” originally composed by Pete Seeger and recorded in 1959. Similar to the music that inspires them, Romney is influenced by the experiences of everyday living. edge of desire (2022), the most opaque and muted painting in the show, depicts the monk bug in the foreground of the canvas with a person to the right wearing only underwear, while to the left, a martini glass stands on a side table by a bed. It feels at once peaceful and intimate, as though the viewer is a spectator to lovers engulfed in a private moment. The martini—served dirty—is a favorite of Romney’s and shows up again in Martini (2022), the monk bug this time with their back to the viewer, holds a martini glass elegantly in their left hand, in a state of grace, framed by an orange and yellow entryway facing a light fixture.
survival research laboratory (2022), the largest and most vibrant work in the show, features two disco balls hanging low in front of a performance stage. The time and place are unknown but somehow feels familiar. The nostalgia is so palpable that even if you know you've never been in a room quite like it, you can imagine it with clarity. It is this ability to bring the viewer in for a closer look where Romney draws on their artistic strength of worldbuilding. In turnturnturnturn, Romney presents their most experimental paintings to date.
— Folasade T. Ologundudu
Mosie Romney (b. 1994, New York) lives and works in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. A Jamaican-American artist, they received their education from SUNY Purchase, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts in 2016. They have been an artist in residence at the Home School, Hudson in 2018 and at Pocoapoco, Oaxaca City in 2021, and are included in the collections of the Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Pond Society, Shanghai; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Yuz Museum, Shanghai. Recent exhibitions include Mosie Romney: it's not My Music, Nicodim, Los Angeles; Sense of Place, Greene Naftali, New York; Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, curated by Mosie Romney, Nicodim, New York (2022); Mosie Romney: Old, Used & New, Gern en Regalia, New York (2022, solo); Different Strokes, curated by Marcus Jahmal, Almine Rech, London (2021); Friend Zone, curated by Vaughn Spann, Half Gallery, New York (2021); Mosie Romney: ENERGYnever, Nicodim Upstairs, Los Angeles (2021, solo); Salon de Peinture, Almine Rech, New York (2021); Touch, Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York (2021); Evening Lark, Y2K Group, New York (2020, solo); PAPA RAGAZZE!, a cura di Olivia Neutron Bomb, Nicodim, Los Angeles (2020); and Mosie Romney and Juan Guiterrez, Meredith Rosen Gallery, New York (2020).