Gallery Wendi Norris

Andrea Dezsö: Things We Think When We Believe We Know

Andrea Dezsö: Things We Think When We Believe We Know

San Francisco, CA USA Thursday, October 7, 2010Saturday, November 6, 2010

San Francisco, CA USA
Thursday, October 7, 2010Saturday, November 6, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. Things We Think When We Believe We Know, Andrea Dezsö’s first exhibition on the West Coast, approaches folklore from a perspective of wonder and profound uncertainty. Evasive and compelling threads of stories play out in ceramics, embroideries, cut and painted paper illuminated tunnel books and mixed media installations. Many of these sometimes operatic scenes seem to be in dialogue with one another across media, narrating fantastic journeys still unwritten. The stories may or may not stretch back into Transylvanian antiquity, may involve alien abductions or interplanetary travel, may have something to do with heaven, hell and purgatory, perhaps flying in dreams, but often fall back on a charm and cuteness that masks ominous and brutal twists of plot.

Born and raised in Nicolae Ceausescu's Communist Romania, Andrea Dezsö received her MFA from the Hungarian University of Design in 1996. A visual artist and writer, Dezsö’s art is born from deeply personal narratives across a broad range of media including drawing, artist's books, cut paper, embroidery, sculpture, installation, animation and large-scale murals. Currently she is creating a permanent public artwork for the MTA system in New York City, her second in the city's subways.


Rabbit (2009, edition of 12) is a figure in a black jumpsuit, often arranged as a group of multiples, which grew out of the artist's residency at a Kohler ceramics facility. These pieces were cast in vitreous china and painted with acrylics, slightly ominous and playful half-life size figures that populate a room with clownish smirks, pot bellies and bulbous bottoms. A crowd of bunnies will greet visitors to the exhibition with upturned palms and smiling, hooded faces.

Dezsö's tunnel books are illuminated manuscripts in cut and painted paper (similar to a once popular and collapsible Victorian form), exploring fables only vaguely articulated in the artist's writing and interviews. Thirty of these tiny narrative tableaux appeared recently in "Slash: Paper Under the Knife," at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. Each tunnel book is rendered in receding layers of richly detailed, hand cut and painted paper - an alien rests in a vineyard, fingers are cut off, a woman's torso is rendered transparent, her organs detailed in intricately cut and bright-hued shapes.

A large constellation of some 30 of Dezsö's recent embroideries will fill one of the gallery’s walls. These reflect aphorisms told to her as a child by her mother, many exhorting her to remain pure and chaste for all sorts of fabulist reasons. Such aphorisms include "My mother claimed that a woman's belly starts growing simply from being married" and "My mother claimed that men will like me more if I pretend to be less smart" or "My mother claimed that hepatitis is a liver disease you get from eating food you find disgusting." Some such works, with the "spacesuit" appearance of her figures, often linger on elaborate fantasies born from her childhood experiences. Her mother's tragi-comic truisms and imaginative departures find new life in the new context of the artist's current existence in New York. The fairy tale images Dezsö is known for were recently scaled to the size of a building at Rice University's gallery in Houston, where her installation Sometimes in My Dreams I Fly is on view through August 8th of 2010. Other ceramic works and installations in additional media will fill out the Frey Norris show.

Dezsö's art has appeared at the Museum of Arts & Design and the Jack Tilton Gallery in New York City. Her work has been featured at The Armory Show and Art Basel Miami Beach and reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times, Village Voice, Wall Street Journal, NPR, New York magazine and Print, among others. Her writing appeared in McSweeney's, Print, and Esopus. She taught at Parsons School of Design and City College in New York, the Moholy-Nagy Hungarian University of Design, and has lectured extensively nationally and internationally. "Community Garden," Dezsö's large scale mosaic for the subway in New York City was awarded Best American Public Art in 2007 by Americans for the Arts. She is the recipient of a 2008 and a 2009 American Illustration award, a 2009 Kohler Arts & Industry and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a 2008 Kamiyama Japan Fellowship, a 2007 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a 2007 Six Points Fellowship, and the Ucross Foundation's 2005 Lois Nellie Gill Award for Female Visual Artist of Exceptional Merit. She lives in New York City.

A 20-page catalogue is available with an essay by Morgan Meis. Meis is the critic-at-large for The Smart Set ( He is also an editor at Morgan has a PhD in philosophy from The New School for Social Research, where he wrote a dissertation on Walter Benjamin's Arcade's Project. He is the winner, this year, of a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant.

For additional information and images please contact the gallery (415) 346-7812 or email or