MEN GallerypresentsBlack Henbane, an exhibition by Hoboken-based artistRob Ventura. In his New York City solo debut, Ventura continues his mixed-media explorations of poisonous flowers as a visual motif for painting, drawing, and sculpture.
Hyoscyamus niger, commonly known as black henbane, is a highly toxic plant that has been historically used in the mixture of poisons, medicinal potions, and psychoactive hallucinogens. For this exhibition, Ventura displays various abstract representations of the anatomical and cellular structure of the flower, exploring its cultural significance as a plant purportedly used to concoct “magic brews”.
The five works on view incorporate oil paint, oil pastel, charcoal, ceramic, and colored pencil. The imagery varies, including poetic interpretations of floral still-life, botanical illustrations, cell diagrams, and micro photography.
Ventura investigates the fields of phytomorphology, the study of the physical and external form of plants, and phytotomy, the study of the interior structure of plants at the cellular level. This interplay between exterior and interior forms metaphorically reflects the psychoanalytic relation of the conscious to the unconscious.