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Childhood Toys Visit the Cold War in Geoffrey Gersten’s “MK-ULTRA Wars”

The childhood toys of surrealist painter Geoffrey Gersten visit the Cold War era in his current exhibition at Copro Gallery, "MK-ULTRA Wars." The show coincides with Anthony Ausgang's equally whimsical exhibition "Catascopes." Gersten takes his title and inspiration from the CIA's mind control program "Project MKUltra," which illegally ran drug testing from the 1950s to early 70s. The project is used as a metaphor for Gersten's paintings, which infuse conflict into otherwise dreamy landscapes populated by candy colored characters.

The childhood toys of surrealist painter Geoffrey Gersten visit the Cold War era in his current exhibition at Copro Gallery, “MK-ULTRA Wars.” The show coincides with Anthony Ausgang’s equally whimsical exhibition “Catascopes.” Gersten takes his title and inspiration from the CIA’s mind control program “Project MKUltra,” which illegally ran drug testing from the 1950s to early 70s. The project is used as a metaphor for Gersten’s paintings, which infuse conflict into otherwise dreamy landscapes populated by candy colored characters. Here, he blurs a line between reality and mind control, using familiar characters like Mickey Mouse and rubber faced teddy bears in the line of fire. This conceptual tug of war is a part of Gersten’s artistic style, which he greatly credits to two artists in particular, Grant Wood and Salvador Dalí. Sourcing Cold War imagery may not sound relevant at first, but the issues society faced during that time have not changed much today. We continue to feel increasing anxiety over the effects of modern technology, the government’s handling of civil matters, and seek better ways to protect our environment. Through the nuances in Gersten’s surrealistic imagery, we can revisit our past and find inspiration to regain control of our future.

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