Rachelle Agundes & Sean Downey: Travel in My Borrowed Lives


Taken from Donald Everett Axinn’s poem of the same name, UMMA presents Travel in My Borrowed Lives, a two-person exhibition of recent paintings by Rachelle Agundes and Sean Downey. Both artists hail from the West Coast and are affected by its unique terrain. In this exhibition, the Pacific Northwest landscape becomes the backdrop for both artists’ re-imagining of scenes extracted from memories and fiction. Agundes and Downey’s works suggest that the environment becomes “inextricably fused with memories and references to time and place.”

Agundes’ paintings explore the distortion of memory through the steady passage of time. Remembrances are filtered through emotional residue and layers of newer experiences supplant moments once considered paramount. The compositions are constructed by collaging accumulated memories of spaces and subjects—rendered images of departed pets and locations in national parks in Northern California are juxtaposed with houseplants and hand-made sculptural models. These fictional spaces shift between interior and exterior and are infused with subconscious information processed in the territory of our dreams.

Downey constructs imagined West Coast archetypes and archetypal scenarios in his large-scale paintings. He fuses aspects of fictional characters and real “types” from both the late 1870s and the late 1970s. In Downey’s enigmatic narratives, passionate hippie causes give way to burnout malaise and back-to-the-land self-sufficiency leads to survivalist seclusion. People wronged by outsiders, by the land, by forces of nature and revenge find their way into the compositions. The artist creates a visual mash-up of figures, settings and scenarios whose references jump back and forth in time. Downey’s recollections of growing up in the Pacific Northwest are comingled with our own collective memories of old movies, historical moments and nostalgic scenes from vintage photographs.

Rachelle Agundes received her BFA from Notre Dame de Namur University, CA and MFA in Painting from Boston University. She lives and works in New York City. Sean Downey received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and MFA in Painting from Boston University. He lives and works in Boston, MA and teaches at Brandeis University.

Visiting Mt. Lassen , 2013
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist


Modernist, 2012
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist