“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.” — C.G. Jung, Aion
Rae Klein’s practice is an exercise and exorcism of uniquely personal, yet ubiquitous movements and moments that tattoo themselves on the collective consciousness by way of cultural osmosis, the repressed memories that metastasize within all of us and dictate our daily actions and reactions. Last Night I Dreamt I Was Running, her second solo exhibition with Nicodim and her first in Europe, represents the artist’s ruminations on dreams, fear, cryptic symbology, and the power they wield over us.
Klein’s subjects are vivid hallucinations that recursively appear and reappear throughout her compositions: sphinxes, horses, dogs, table settings, disembodied hairdos and eyes, curtained windows, candelabras, and seashells fade into and out of being from uncanny perspectives on surreal skyscapes and flattened planes of red. The sphinx is one of her favorite metaphors for feminine strength and unpredictability, one that crept into her oeuvre not through the Moreau painting or the Greek myth, but the anime feature Paprika Klein saw as a child—the character’s millennia of allegorical existence subconsciously revealed itself by repetitively manifesting on her canvases. Klein’s massive sphinx in Sondra III would eat Oedipus alive. Conversely, the artist’s dreamscapes often guide her in a softer direction. Unparalleled Joy + Unconditional Love depicts a heavenly banquet in the clouds embraced by a rainbow, recalling Magritte’s more pleasant pictures, though a dark streak just off to the right hints at an ominous future.
The immense scale of the works within Last Night I Dreamt I Was Running elevate their content to larger-than-life sized windows into both Klein’s psyche and that of culture at-large, often literally, as in Double Window II. Even if her vocabulary is at once confounding, it is familiar, it is haunting, and it is beautiful.
Rae Klein (b. 1995) lives and works in Michigan. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2017 with a BFA in Painting. Recent exhibitions include DISEMBODIED, curated by Ben Lee Ritchie Handler, Nicodim, New York (2023); LOW VOICE OUT LOUD, Nicodim, Los Angeles (2022, solo); The Comfort in Calamity, Jessica Silverman, San Francisco (2022, solo); BODYLAND, curated by Lauren Taschen, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (2022); End of Eden, Galerie Wolfsen, Aalborg (2022); Todo es de Color, The Curator’s Room, Amsterdam (2022); Paper., BEERS London (2022); Waiting in the Field, The Valley, Taos, New Mexico (2021, solo); I Have My Eye On You, Everyday Gallery, Antwerp (2021); and When Shit Hits The Fan Again, Guts Gallery, London (2021).