ELIZABETH MALASKA // when we dead awaken


On view November 19 - December 31, 2014
Opening reception Friday, November 21 (6 p.m. - 8 p.m.)

Protest is a fundamental reason I paint. Protest against sexism, against the status quo, against what I should be doing. —Elizabeth Malaska

In When We Dead Awaken, her second solo exhibition at Nationale, Elizabeth Malaska weaves a critical yarn through the patriarchal lineage of modern art. Her paintings, with their dramatic juxtaposition of subject, material, and technique dispel normative readings, while also warning against the impending apocalypse of global complacency. Coupled with the artificiality of her statuesque female figures and geometric settings, they transition from everyday narratives into urgent allegories. 

In Legacy of Ruin, a woman shroud in a clingy net of black mesh postures fiercely at us from the corner of a shadowy enclave. She adopts the stance of a model—her bare, muscular thighs balance powerfully atop platform sneakers while her long, light hair tumbles behind her shoulders. This erotic display, however, is immediately threatened by the machine gun she clutches knowingly in her hands. Details begin to emerge from around the room: an empty chair waits uneasily for its occupant, a tattered, crochet tapestry hung next to the doorway heightens the claustrophobia, an American flag sags uselessly behind the figure, a vase’s curves pulsate with a pattern of wiggling semen. The room is fertile. The painting shifts from a comprehensible reality to a Surrealist glimpse into the unknown. Like the inky Rorschach tests pinned to the wall, we understand that truth enlightens. The only trouble is discovering its location.

Born in Portland, OR, Elizabeth Malaska earned her MFA from the city’s Pacific Northwest College of Art. Her work has been exhibited nationally at various institutions including Portland’s Froelick Gallery, Disjecta, Portland Center Stage, and San Francisco’s California College of the Arts, where she also received her BFA. She was named a finalist for The Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant and the Fine Arts Work Center fellowship in Provincetown, MA. She recently spent time in La Grande, OR as a visiting assistant professor at Eastern Oregon University. This is her second time showing at Nationale, where she is represented.


Review by Sarah Sentilles for Oregon ArtsWatch
Top pick, John Motley's gallery preview for the Oregonian
Essay by David Brazil


Images © Mario Gallucci

Please email the gallery for a price list of Elizabeth Malaska's work and for larger images (info@nationale.us)