The recent work of Molly Bounds @ Athen B. Gallery
In her new series, Denver-based artist Molly Bounds portrays the moments of solitude and the feelings emerging from this intended or forced isolation and perhaps abandonment, when one seeks refuge and liberation in the inner world, that in the end appears to be as overwhelming as the reality he/she wanted to escape in the first place.
The female figures in her paintings are revealed through subtle details, expressive gestures, and are mainly depicted in profile. Behind the translucent windows, they seem captive of their own thoughts and emotions, inert and vulnerable, partially hiding behind the curtains as if they hope to be seen and acknowledged, waiting or longing for someone/something to happen, quietly opposing the passing of time. Caught between memories, a confusing present and unspoken expectations, between desire and unfulfillment, they may experience doubt, uncertainty, unease.
Although some works suggest contemplation, it is rather the viewer who is invited to meditate. Molly Bounds establishes a sort of complicity with her audience, especially through the titles – Have You Ever Felt It or That Feeling You Get. The artist chooses simplicity and a palette of colors evoking, to some extent, an unsettling state of melancholia, probably beyond cure. In I’d Rather Stay, there is no need for any human trace – the shadow alone is more powerful to embody the yearning. As light will shine only temporarily to be soon replaced by darkness in a natural cycle of day and night, this can be correlated again with the passing of time – the inability to master it and relive a dear moment causes anxiety and regret. What Did You Do Today could be both a question to evaluate the worth of one’s own activity – did I live today to the fullest? – or a question asked by another, a curiosity or inspection, too superficial, too common, that it lacks the purpose of an in depth understanding of what the other actually feels.
Is the viewer an intruder in this deeply intimate universe or a distant spectator? The characters are being watched through the window, their discomfort and angst examined from the outside. But the viewer plays a crucial role by enforcing possibility as the constant of this series – each interpretation opens a new way to perceive the other and ourselves, and free ourselves from (our own) limits.
The works shown below are part of the group exhibition Spectators, on view through March 3rd, 2017 at Athen B. Gallery (1525 Webster St. Oakland, CA | Hours: Tuesday – Friday 12-6 pm, Saturday 11-5 pm).
That Feeling You Get, latex on stretched canvas, 28 x 30 inches, 2017
Have You Ever Felt It, latex on stretched canvas, 28 x 30 inches, 2017
I’d Rather Stay, acrylic on stretched canvas, 20 x 20 inches, 2017
No Messages (Cory At Home), acrylic on stretched canvas, 48 x 60 inches, 2017
What Did You Do Today, latex on stretched canvas, 30 x 40 inches, 2017
Images courtesy of Athen B. Gallery.