Date and origin of the works 1991-2014
These three paintings from the “Forest of Love “ series arose from a feminist impulse: Dame Hubbard, based on the nursery rhyme of Old Mother Hubbard, about women and poverty, women serving others. “Bow-Wow” is a take on the inner, female sex organ and the outer, male one, both capable of reversing position, The Female is about what it says it is about.
The paintings in this series were always conceived as large, even heroic, works of commentary. As the paintings developed they became more abstract: the vivid colors and jagged, rhythmic shapes took on a life of their own, while also showing how abstraction uses memories of form. They became joyous without, for me , losing their overtones of feminism. Seeing them, the British artist Graham Ashton remarked that they looked like Sonia Delaunay on acid, and the dynamic patterning of early Twentieth Century Orphism does have a connection to my work.”the distribution of colors can be effected as well with complex forms” Sonia Delaunay
I set the series aside for a while. I wondered how the works could engage their viewers in a more active and relational way. Out of each work I drew quasi-figurative elements whose meaning had become almost a secret and I decided to let the signifiers loose in the third dimension.
The sculptures are constructed in iron, foam, pvc, polurethane paint and varnish.
The sculptures have stepped out of the frame to occupy the contested space between the eye and the painting, between figuration and abstraction, between the declarative and the ironic.
First of all the sculptures are my own conversation with the painting: even the most deeply meant work can carry an ironic or even comic tinge.What people are hiding in the bushes? Who or what is talking to us in abstraction?
Then, the sculptures, with their funny feet, also converse with the viewer and establish an active relation to the two dimensional work— literally active, because they stand in front of the paintings. Amongst other things they say, you want meaning? Here it is — a witty and touching cast of characters pulled from abstraction and talking to you. They can even walk back and forth as if they were connoisseurs of themselves.
“Dame Hubbard, “Bow-Wow” and “The Female” are the first three of the seven part “Forest of Love” series to be completed. I am currently working on drawing out a cast of characters from the other four.
Barbara Weil as related to the writer Helen McNeilShare this