Beverly Fishman’s Relief Paintings Explore the Dark Promise of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Shawn Ghassemitari, HypeArt, April 12, 2022


Having recently concluded a joint exhibition of work with Gary Lang at Library Street Collective, Beverly Fishman is following up with a solo show of her own at Chicago’s Kavi Gupta Gallery. 


“Feels Like Love” presents a suite of new relief paintings that enchant the eye from a distance, but reveal darker undertones upon closer study. The exhibition essentially starts with a question: “Can abstraction be political and socially relevant?” It’s through this premise that the artist opens a dialogue on our culture’s relationship to medicine.


A 2016 study by the CDC estimates that over 20 percent of Americans have chronic pain. The human brain can naturally alleviate some of these stresses through simple connection, be it a conversation or companionship, but pharmaceuticals, the artist states, should always be used as a last resort. Yet, it has become commonplace for various prescribed drugs, opiods and antidepressants to be widely abused around the world — treating one problem and opening several others. 


Fishman has carefully studied the design lexicon used by pharmaceutical companies to market their medicine. Through large phosphorescent paintings, she magnifies both the promise and illusion of the way in which pills are supposed to treat illnesses such as pain, depression or insomnia, raising awareness to the underspoken “battleground on which we fight against an unchecked Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex, to assert the right to understand and define our own bodies and identities.”

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