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Curtain Calls (2023-2024)

In her first solo-exhibition with Carter Burden Gallery painter Darla Bjork explores themes of death and transition through a series of gestural paintings in Curtain Calls. At the age of 85, Bjork’s contemplation on mortality deepened. While she transitioned from her previous COVID Windows Series, she found herself drawn to painting a peculiar shape, which gradually transformed into curtains. The symbolism of the curtain intrigued her — was it reminiscent of the enigmatic emerald curtain in The Wizard of Oz, prompting curiosity about what lie on the other side? Or perhaps it resembled the curtains of a theatrical production, echoing Shakespeare's assertion that "All the world’s a stage..."

Through this series, Bjork grapples with existential questions about what lies behind the veil. Is death a barrier, a threshold, or merely the beginning of a new act? These opaque shrouds symbolize the uncertainty of the future and the inability to foresee what comes next. Drawing inspiration from poems like Mary Oliver’s When Death Comes, which approaches death with inquisitiveness rather than despair, Bjork’s artistic journey reflects a profound inquiry into the unknown. Ultimately, Curtain Calls serves as an elegy, a poetic reflection on loss and the inevitability of death, inviting the viewer to join in pondering the mysteries of existence and the passage beyond.   - Excerpt from Essay by Sarah Leon

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