Folk tales, memories and Lewis Carroll inhabit the mind of Jude Griebel. Curious enough fodder for a young man’s imagination, you might say, but also strange and powerfully evocative. Griebel’s exhibition “Scenes From the Neglected Garden” portrays the castles in the air of the artist’s youth, utilizing as backdrops the decaying, abandoned houses he once used as refuges for play. The outdoors is brought into these bland interiors, and flora and fauna plucked from Victorian storybooks emanate from their surfaces. These ochre- and earth-toned rooms are home to gardens growing from the floor and fluffy rain clouds that hover above like displaced lampshades. Scale is also manipulated here, with stoic human characters depicted oversize within a miniaturized realm.
Rabbits, mice and birds act as guides for, or perhaps more as foils to, young souls who are intertwined in mysterious and sometimes supernatural adventures. Griebel calls upon the viewer’s sense of youthful fantasy in presenting scenarios that are at once imaginary and all too accessible to any adult. The artist states: “Combining fiction with real experience has become a tactic in my work for the elaboration of figurative, as opposed to literal, truths.” Plants occupy a pivotal role here, symbolizing both physical growth and the impermanence of one’s existence upon the material plane.
In The boy who was full of weeds, a collapsed pile of clothing lies upon the floor, shoes and all, and where there once stood a body all that remains is sprouting grass. In another piece, a girl, a bird and a rabbit anticipate an oncoming storm, while in another a prostrate, pensive boy receives a key from a mouse. In A message is delivered from below, the exhibition’s most paranormal event plays out: a hand protrudes forth from a flower patch to deliver a note to a young boy.
In these rooms, the young turn familiar surroundings into their own set of playthings, blurring reality and imagination.