The Moon Seemed Lost: ruby onyinyechi amanze, Omar Ba, Anthony Cudahy, TM Davy, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Sarah Peters, Maja Ruznic

14 February - 4 April 2020 New York

Magic realism is ‘a way of seeing in which there is space for the invisible forces that move the world: dreams, legends, myths, emotion, passion, history. All these forces find a place in the absurd, unexplainable aspects of magic realism, it is the capacity to see all the dimensions of reality.’ [1]


Isabel Allende


Hales is delighted to announce The Moon Seemed Lost, a group exhibition which draws upon elements of magic realism, focusing on expressions of human nature and uncanny interpretations of inner worlds. Through painting, drawing, sculpture and photography these seven artists – ruby onyinyechi amanze, Omar Ba, Anthony Cudahy, TM Davy, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Sarah Peters and Maja Ruznic – embrace and reimagine the figurative, creating mystic representations of life that combine body and psyche.


The exhibition takes its title from a 1968 magic realist story, Daughters of the Moon, by Italo Calvino. Set in a parallel New York City, the moon is decaying so is captured and carried to earth by a mechanical crane. The narrative is based in a real place with real people who are experiencing and accepting the phenomenal.


Magic realism is an expansive term, often associated with literary narrative but is primarily rooted in a fine art context.* In The Moon Seemed Lost, the artists’ aesthetic explorations of magic realism are underscored by wide-ranging, individual concerns, including gender, sexuality, queer identity, race and nationhood. Highlighting the mythic within reality and redefining the borders of reality, the works embrace the fantastical in the natural world.


Exploring different realities, the works in this exhibition encompass the imaginary and the ancient; as well as mythology and religious fables – whilst being connected to eternal themes of personal, social and political experience. Presently, in a time of global uncertainty, The Moon Seemed Lost requires the viewer to suspend disbelief. Mesmerising and rendered otherworldly, the works serve as portals to other realms.


In ruby onyinyechi amanze’s open-ended drawings, she explores spatiality in the blank page of the paper as well as in the geographic sense. She draws on her experience of coming from many places and a personal cultural hybridity to create an imagined dreamscape – where hybridity is emphasized and a ‘post-colonial non-nationalism’ has become the reality.


Omar Ba creates a universe of intricate ornamentation and elaborate surrealistic vision, which is drawn from the beauty and history of Africa. At once dark and luminous, Anthony Cudahy’s paintings originate from an archive of reference images, which in the process of making become scenes less specific to space and time, hinting more at the mythical and utopian. TM Davy’s intricate and evocative paintings are symbolically lit, emanating spirit and a phenomenal reality. In Rotimi Fani-Kayode’s photographic practice, he combined his personal reality with cultural, spiritual and erotic references to speak to a wider contemporary social reality. He created a body of powerfully performative and theatrical images that were aesthetically and conceptually transcendent and fantastical. Sarah Peters’ unsettling sculptures have a talismanic quality – her heads simultaneously evoke antique deities and modern androids. In Maja Ruznic’s ethereal paintings, she deftly weaves personal memory and her experience of trauma with mythology and healing, softening the darker subject matter in her work.


The intimate, figurative portrayals in this exhibition have a psychological underpinning, both revealing and concealing an interior spirit. Charged with symbolism and conceptual metaphors, the works manifest the sacred, ancient and futuristic. Conflating historical and contemporaneous imagery; with the real and imagined, creates a timelessness to these works. This group of artists use elements of magic realism to reorient our perception, revealing the world anew.



ruby onyinyechi amanze (b.1982 Port-Harcourt, Nigeria) moved to the UK as a child, before moving to Philadelphia, PA, USA in 1995. In 2004, amanze earned her BFA, summa cum laude, from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, PA, USA and her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA in 2006. She currently lives between New York and Philadelphia, USA but considers multiple places home. In 2012-2013, amanze was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholars Award in Drawing to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. amanze has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including, New York, Miami, USA; Johannesburg, South Africa; Paris, France; London, UK and Lagos, Nigeria; including the California African American Museum, the Drawing Center and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She was artist-in-residence at the Queens Museum and an Open Sessions participant at the Drawing Center, both NY (2015-2017). In 2019, amanze was named the Deutsche Bank Featured Artist at Frieze New York.



Omar Ba (b.1977 Senegal) graduated from l'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-arts, Dakar, Senegal in 2002 and l'Ecole Supérieur des Beaux-arts in 2005 and received an ECAV - MAPS Arts in Public Spheres in 2011 from the Haute Ecole d’Art du Valais (both Geneva, Switzerland). He lives and works in both Dakar and Geneva. In 2019, Ba’s comprehensive solo exhibition, Same Dream, toured Canada to The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto and Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal. Throughout his career, his works have been exhibited widely and internationally at institutions including BOZAR, Brussels, Belgium (2017); Ferme-Asile, Sion, Switzerland (2015); Hales London (2014, 2017); Biennale de Dakar, Senegal (2014); Aagauer Kunsthaus, Switzerland (2012) and many others. Ba's works can be found in private and public collections, including Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Canada), Credit Suisse (Switzerland), Fonds municipal d'art contemporain de la Ville de Geneve (Switzerland), Fonds municipal d'art contemporain de la Ville de Paris (France), Centre national des arts plastiques (France), Louvre Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and the Barbier-Mueller Collection (Switzerland). In 2011, Ba received the prestigious Swiss Art Award.



Anthony Cudahy (b.1989 Florida, USA) received a BFA from Pratt Institute, NY and he is currently a 2020 MFA at Hunter College, NY. He lives and works in New York City, NY, USA. In 2018, he exhibited a body of paintings entitled The Gathering at The Java Project in Brooklyn, NY and has had solo shows at Farewell Books Austin, TX; and Mumbo's Outfit Manhattan, NY. He has been in group shows at Pratt Institute’s Dekalb Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, USA; Perrotin Gallery, NY, USA; Rude Assembly, Sydney, Australia; Danese/Corey NY; Practice, NY, USA; Harpy Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, USA; ATHICA, GA; 68 Projects, Berlin, Germany, among others. His work has also been featured and reviewed in publications including Mossless, the Paris Review, Hello Mr., Marco Polo Quarterly, and Cakeboy. He is a former resident of the Artha Project, NY, USA. Dashwood Books produced a zine in 2017 of Cudahy and his husband’s, Ian Lewandowski, work.



TM Davy (b. 1980 New York, NY, USA) received a BFA from The School of Visual Arts, where he also teaches. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has had solo exhibitions at 11R, NY, USA (2017) and Exile, Berlin, Germany (2011), and has been included in group exhibitions at the FLAG Art Foundation, NY, USA (2017), The LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, NY, USA (2016), the 10th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014), the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2013), Tate Modern, London, (2010), and Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain (2010). His paintings have been featured in Sarah Michelson’s performance projects at the Whitney Biennial, NY, USA (2012), the Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA (2012), and The Kitchen, NY, USA (2011).



Rotimi Fani-Kayode (b. 1955 Lagos, Nigeria) moved to England following the 1996 outbreak of civil war in Nigeria. He later studied in the USA at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. and the Pratt Institute, NY before settling permanently in London in 1983 where he lived and worked until his early death from a short and unexpected illness on December 21, 1989. He was a founding member of the organization Autograph – Association of Black Photographers in London. Fani-Kayode has had numerous solo shows, including Riverside Studios London, UK (1986); Harvard University’s Hutchins Center MA, USA (2009); Autograph, Rivington Place, London, UK (2011); Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2014); Syracuse University Art Galleries, NY, USA (2016); and Hales Project Room, NY, USA (2018). In 2003, his work was featured in the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy and in 2011 in ARS 11 at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland. Fani-Kayode is represented in numerous public and private collections internationally, including Tate London, UK; Victoria & Albert Museum London, UK; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; Chapman University CA, USA; Guggenheim Museum NY, USA; The Walther Collection USA/Germany; and Harvard University’s Hutchins Centre MA, USA.



Sarah Peters (b.1973 Boston, MA, USA) graduated with an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certificate from The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She lives and works in Queens, NY. The artist is a recipient of awards and residencies from John Michael Kohler, WI and New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), NY (2011; The Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA (2010); and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Space Program, Brooklyn, NY (2008). Solo and two-person exhibitions include Halsey McKay Gallery, New York, NY (2017); Eleven Rivington, New York (2015); 4 AM, New York (2015); Bodyrite (with Mira Dancy) at Asya Geisberg, NY (2014); Edward Winkleman Gallery, NY (2007,2010); and John Davis Gallery, Hudson, NY (2013). Group exhibitions include Objects Like Us, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart and David Adamo (2018); Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Switzerland (2018); and Rodin and the Contemporary Figurative Tradition, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI (2017), among others. Her work has been reviewed and featured in publications such as The New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, and The Brooklyn Rail.



Maja Ruznic (b. 1983 Bosnia & Hercegovina) immigrated to the United States in 1995, settling in California. When the war in Bosnia started in 1992, Ruznic and her mother fled immediately, living in refugee camps in Austria until they eventually arrived in San Francisco in 1995. She went on to study at the University of California, Berkley, CA, USA (2005), later receiving an MFA from the California College of Arts, CA, USA (2009). Ruznic currently lives and works in Roswell, NM, USA. Ruznic has exhibited internationally and her work has been written about extensively, most notably in ArtMaze Magazine, Juxtapoz, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Studio Visit Magazine, and twice in New American Paintings. In 2018, Ruznic was a recipient of the Hopper Prize. In 2019, Dallas Museum of Art, TX, USA and The US Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina acquired her work for their collections. In 2020, she will have her first solo exhibition at Hales London.



[1] Allende, Isabel. The Shaman and the Infidel (interview). New Perspectives Quarterly 8.1 (1991) p54

* The term was conceived by the artist and critic Franz Roh in 1925, during a period of political unrest in Weimar Germany.

Installation Views