In our dreams, the familiar becomes strange and the bizarre is made believable. Fragments of recognizable settings, people, and events are woven into seamless narratives that are mysterious or unexpected, and yet somehow inevitable. These images can blur the distinctions between illusion and reality, offering a continuation of waking life while asleep.

Somnambulist/Fabulist is a selection of works from the Tang’s collections that explores the creative links between dreaming and storytelling. Are dreams, in fact, just stories that we tell ourselves to help us make sense of our daily existence? The exhibition’s title joins the words somnambulist — a sleepwalker — and fabulist, a creator of fables. Like fables, whose often-absurd characters teach practical lessons, the narratives that emerge in dreams offer coded messages that seem ripe for interpretation.

Each work on view presents a different type of dreamscape, from peaceful solitude to nightmarish reverie. Collage plays an important role in this process.

Gina Magid incorporates two translucent realities into one, while strange hybrid creatures populate works by Frederico Castellon, Salvador Dalí, and Kevin Carter. Some pieces use formal shifts of scale and perspective to evoke varied states of awareness. A distorted teacup by Robert Lazzarini shimmers like a mirage, while five tiny paintings by Jeronimo Elespe recall the way dreams can elude us by receding before being fused into memory. In other works, spaces collapse inward or tunnel outward to infinity. David Salle’s large-scale screenprint employs vibrant color and frantic linework to present overlapping voices and a cacophony of emotions, dominated by anxiety, confusion, and sexual preoccupations. A painting of seemingly mundane objects on plain cabinet shelves is but a small window onto Jim Shaw’s Dream Object series. This decade-long project features imagery pulled directly from what Shaw remembers of his dreams, and represents a meticulous document of an especially vivid dream life.
Exhibition Name
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Winter Gallery
Jun 24, 2006 - Oct 15, 2006
Somnambulist/Fabulist is organized by Ginny Kollak, Tang Curatorial Assistant.
Kevin Carter, Frederico Castellon, Salvador Dalí, Jeronimo Elespe, Robert Lazzarini, Gina Magid, David Salle, Jim Shaw
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