The 13th Floor

“Crossing The Abyss” – A Dark Art Exhibit

“We have such sights to show you!”

The beautiful thing about art is that it can transport us to worlds we could never possibly imagine ourselves. It’s that subjective quality, paired up with our own life experiences that makes ever piece of art we encounter mean something different to the viewer. That’s what I love about setting foot in Hyaena Gallery located at 1928 W. Olive Ave. in Burbank, California. Every month, the back wall is swamped out with a particular exhibit. Sometimes it’s to showcase one specific artist. Other times it’s to pay tribute to an influential filmmaker. (They’re hosted shows with art inspired by John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Quentin Tarantino.) But last month for September, the theme of the show was “Crossing The Abyss,” a unique opportunity for gallery owner and curator Bill Shafer to showcase artists you might not be familiar with.

We touched base with Shafer to get the full story behind the “Crossing The Abyss” exhibit! For the month of September, you had a show at Hyaena Gallery called “Crossing The Abyss.” Tell me a bit about that?

Bill Shafer: “Crossing The Abyss” is a chance for me to showcase artists that I’m a huge fan of, but haven’t shown much of over the years, and some that I’ve always wanted to show and have never shown. It’s a dark art show. I think some of the finest artists out there are going to be involved. It’s not a huge show. It’s a total of 16 pieces. It’s all top notch artists doing work that I really think needs to be seen.

BH: What do they have in common if anything? Why have they not shown here yet as often as you would’ve liked?

BS: Some of them I just haven’t had the chance to work with yet. I’ve been watching their careers and really digging their art. A few of them, I have some of their pieces at home, but I’ve never shown them in the gallery. And some of them have just been too busy. So they don’t do many shows. Maybe they’re tied up with other galleries. But with this show, I approached them and talked to them about the theme of the show and wanted to bring them together and I think we have a great line-up together.

BH: How are some of these artists and what is it about their specific styles that you like?

BS: Laurent Fièvre from France. He’s an artist I found on Instagram and I just fell in love with his stuff. I started talking to him, and finally months later I was able to get 3 of his pieces in for this show. He does this darker, abstract kind of outsider stuff but it’s such fine art. I’m so bad at describing this stuff, because for me, it’s a real visceral thing. I look at the art and I just feel it in my gut. I see it and say, “yes, I’m into that.” And technically he does great graphite drawings of abstractions on skulls. And his paintings are really textural. He has cloth that comes off of them and then rises off the painting. Not necessarily evil looking, but definitely sinister. Cutesy sinister. When you look at them, they’re very, very refined. I’ve got David Anthony Magitis from the UK. I’d say he’s in the vein of Clint Carney. A realistic horror to his pieces. Stuff with woman with faces falling off or long finger nails that are weapons, that kind of thing. Really technically sound work. Someone I haven’t been able to show, but whom I’ve been a huge fan of for years. David Van Gough, we did a Charles Manson exhibit with him. He spent a year researching the Manson case and did a series of paintings of Sharron Tate as the goddess and really connected all the crimes and all the facts around them in such a fascinating way. From that show, he was featured in the documentary SERIAL KILLER CULTURE by John Borowski. Since that show, I haven’t been able to show him, primarily because our paths hadn’t crossed in the right way, but again, I’m such a fan of his work. He’s in the upper echelon of what’s not being seen out there.

BH: Are these artists doing specific new things for this show, or are they contributing some of your favorite pieces?

BS: I told them “give me what you want to show.” I primarily curated the artists more than the art for this one. I really wanted to see what they wanted to put forward. Again, I like to see what’s in the artists head. I like their opinions because it gives me more insight into their work. They all brought such incredible pieces, though, so it was very easy on my end.

BH: What’s the significance of the title for this show, “Crossing The Abyss?”

BS: “Crossing The Abyss” is a Crowley-ian reference. When you’re leaving the ego behind and stepping foot across the spiritual chasm, that’s crossing the abyss. When you get to the other side, you’ve achieved something new, transformative. So I’m hoping with this show to bring a higher level of art to the gallery that will attract newer clientele, and maybe open a few eyes. A lot of shows I do are like this, I just flip the coin and throw it out there and see what happens. Other galleries play it so safe. Almost every show, I cross the abyss.

For more info on the “Crossing The Abyss” exhibit, visit the Hyaena Gallery website.

“La Misrabla Idiotique” by David Anthony Magitis
“The Return of Eris of Troy – the Teutonic Crusades” by David Van Gough
Les pluies acides (1)
“Les Pluies Acides” by Laurent Fièvre
Red Ribbon_by Clint Carney
“Red Ribbon” by Clint Carney
S V Mitchell artist Nr. 124 BLACK TEA small III
“Black Tea” by Steven Vincent Mitchell