Today I want to steer your attention to a very talented artist named Cris Brodahl hailing from Belgium, she was just brought to my attention this thursday. Unfortunately her internet presence is very small (not even a website!) so I was unable to locate any of her pieces from the show I saw but these will have to do.
Her first ever US Solo show, Relievo, is being presented at the Seattle Art Museum. Though I often do try to mainly look at the art and not the explanations, one particular sentance sticks in my head. It states that Cris Brodahl has been "quietly" painting for years. The emphasis is on "quietly". Suturing herself within her studio, where only one lone painting hangs, she's been dedicating her life to her images, not the outside world's expectations. This artistic monastary not only blocks out the world but her previous works as well. This purity rings when you see her works. They are clean, calculated and uncomfortably full of madness.
Brodahl pays her respects to classical art by taking her scalpel to it, cutting photos of women apart, cutting them open until their insides in the form of amorphous flowers and knots of finely woven hair tumble out to lay forgotten at your feet.
One could go on about her exquisite painting skills. Though her larger scale figure paintings/ sculptures seemed to be lacking depth, her portraitures of the picture mutants that seemed to be encased in a filmy mask of rock are so full of her obsession for detail, and are so heart wrenching that they make up for their larger counterparts.
Another point that should be noted is though she has been keeping out anything that could sully her work Brodahl is keenly aware of the current art climate. I say this because part of the gallery showcased a series of porcelain sculptures of diaphonous women being lost in a mass of cartilage and bone. This theme carries over to the paintings/ reliefs on an adjacent wall. Upon closer inspection the bony parts of the paintings and the the entirety of sculpture seemed to have been crafted by possibly machine? It was too perfectly cut to be anything hand-made. This use of computers is very ingenious and speaks to the constant pulling sensation in her pieces. Beauty vs. gruesome, artificial vs. traditional.
How convenient these new tools are, but are we selling a little of our souls in the aquisition of these new tools that promise leisure and reproducability? It speaks to something that the current generation is collectively experiencing, especially in the realm of visual culture. What we are seeing is a clash of moving forward and retaining the past, the fear and knowledge that no matter what is done all will not be saved. I was just talking to a friend about this but what we are seeing is an acceleration of technology that is erasing everything from books, movies, cartoons, painting, craftmanship, the real human vs. the idealized version of an avatar or carefully calculated internet persona. The loss of the initial seed is what is feared. I apologize for the sudden downward spiral of this last paragraph but it does illustrate the panic of the handful of people seeing the world move on without them.
Last Observation: What is up with current female artists and the hair obsession? I've done it, classmates have done it, Cris Brodahl is HELLA doin it. Why is hair so important to us? Feel free to comment!