Sunset Sex: Loie Hollowell at Feuer/Mesler
Loie Hollowell: Mother Tongue at Feuer/Messer
October 27 to December 18, 2016
319 Grand Street, Second Floor (between Allen and Orchard streets)
New York, 212 989 7700
“Mother Tongue,” a selection of new paintings by Loie Hollowell (all 2016) on view at Feuer/Mesler, osculate in slow-burning sensuality. These pictures induce dream logic/experience in the viewer — the sort of truth that doesn’t make sense when attempting to explain the morning after. But the memory is known and felt.
Hollowell’s work has as much to do with the body as landscape and symbolism. One might wonder what Forrest Bess would make of her pictures in reference to his dreams and lexicon of symbols notating the body, landscape, sex, cosmos, moisture, dilating, cutting, etc. Looking at Clouds, Cactus and Sun one sees a bizarre, arousing composition of two clouds a cactus, and a sun which are simultaneously two hands spreading apart a figure’s bent-over ass. There’s an mysterious sexuality hidden, which folds in and out of landscape, creating a low-key expectancy. The anticipation and ambiguity sustains a number of narrative possibilities at play with the works’ structure, symmetry and concise divides of form and color. The strong sense of clarity and design make these images approachable, while the metamorphosing forms keep the viewer transfixed. Rise, Risen is a closeup of a woman’s torso, it’s the sun seen from behind a dewy window with viscous droplets warping our vision of it, and nipples superimposed over a feverish sky, rhythmically falling to the earth.
The colors affected in these paintings reinforce their spellbinding nature. The purples, reds, and yellows aren’t readily nameable. Rather, they feel extracted directly from a desert sunset slipping into a blue, green night. Color creates an internal light that oozes like magma. Hung (Up) is all at once a desert, orgasm, strange flora, internal organs, and an erection. In Incoming Tide the backside of a woman’s spread, south-to-north facing thighs pulse and push to the surface and balance over a deep back dome, implying an impending gush. Fluidity is key. Everything in this world flows inward and outward — from one thing to another. Contemplating any particular instance of Hollowell’s world, such as Think Pound Over Green Mound, the center form appears just as bulbous and outward as it is convex. It’s a cataclysmic explosion triggered by the tip of a pointed mound.
Many of the canvases are shaped, with rounded protuberances projecting from their surfaces. The illusion of physical painting and the painted allusion add to the psychedelic nature of these works. It is nearly impossible to decipher, even when viewing in person, where Hollowell has sculpted up areas of the surface and where the illusion is trompe-l’œil. The seamless transition from dream to physical representation also points toward the micro/macro quality of these images. Hung (Detail) could be a single cell organism under a microscope or a supernova millions of lightyears away.
What Hollowell is getting at is a definition of intimacy through visual poetry. These paintings describe a multivalent set of intimate relationships among the self, selves, the body in relation to nature, gender, time, sex, and space. She finds comfort hanging in the ever-evolving place between these barriers to show us the value and richness of undefined, ever-evolving territory.