Escapism is a commonly depicted theme in art history, in the form of a pastime or means of entertainment that diverts the mind from daily struggles. Ranging from frescos of erotic brothel scenes found in the ancient ruins of Pompeii (prior to 79 AD), to Impressionist paintings of the opera (19th Century), artists have continuously felt the need to represent enjoyable activities. These events provide a temporary shift from day-to-day worries to amusements that offer a pleasurable alternative. While art can be seen as a form of escapism, it can also be used to delve into a multitude of channels granting us admission into different worlds or alternate times and places.
This exhibition brings together works from the RMG’s permanent collection that share this common theme. They include representations of theatre, concerts, carnivals and rodeos, as well as the audience who frequent these events. Each work offers the opportunity to experience the events through the artist’s eyes; yet there is no question that we, as viewers, are denied the full sensory experience which comes with attending these events first hand. We cannot hear melodies, smell perfumes, feel temperatures, or taste food. While these absences may seem like a disadvantage to the goal of escapism, it is quite the opposite.
The gallery offers us the ideal venue to absorb these works, shifting our mind away from our day-to-day thoughts and centering our attention on the art before us. With our concerns behind us, we are free to dive into the timeless moments portrayed in the artworks. The Art of Escapism features works that present us with the opportunity to break free from routine and briefly escape into a variety of delightful distractions.