Constance Mallinson will present a public lecture about her work on Wednesday, September 16, at 2 p.m.
“Project Series 38” premieres Mallinson’s new paintings, which examine how we construct meaning from nature in an increasingly urbanized world. In a richly detailed, highly rendered trompe l’oeil style—a style of painting that gives the illusion of photographic reality—Mallinson’s newest works combine the beautiful and the grotesque in equally unsettling and intriguing measure. The life-size oil paintings—on paper or plywood—depict figurative imagery ranging from a pile of twisted dead branches resembling severed limbs; a naked couple composed of twigs and logs; to an exacting recreation of Édouard Manet’s 1863 seminal painting Olympia from natural materials reminiscent of the style of 16th-century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
The inspiration for her work comes from numerous impulses: a lifelong involvement with nature spiritually, physically, and politically; a drive to expand her painting practice and processes; a passion for contemporary and historical art; a history of working within the landscape tradition; and a desire to interrogate the history of representations of nature.
With collage as her organizing principle, she constructs her still life imagery from arrangements and compositions of decaying and rotten natural materials collected on daily walks through the semi-rural landscape where she lives. In this work, she paints her observations directly from nature, using collaged constructions of decomposed materials. Mallinson works intimately with her primary subject—nature and the natural world.
Mallinson’s unsettling images make us wrestle with or meditate on the perilous situation nature is suffering globally. Deeply moved by nature since childhood, Mallinson invests her art with nature’s sublime magnificence, and her work of the last 30 years profoundly reveals her profound love of both the natural world and art and art history.