ELIZABETH MALASKA // we never belonged to you
On view October 5 - November 11, 2012
Opening reception for the artist First Friday, October 5, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
The body—especially the female body—has long occupied a contentious role within art historical discourse. For We Never Belonged to You, painter Elizabeth Malaska calls upon this familiar dichotomy of subject/object in order to both question and confuse the power of the viewer’s gaze.
Her naked figures, placed atop striking, geometric textiles in otherwise sparse, modernist rooms, first appear as mere objects on display for our viewing pleasure. However, their dynamic surroundings and vacant stares quickly counter such instant gratification by invoking an uneasy, and increasingly sinister, aura. Trapped in a vortex of pattern and color, the viewer can no longer claim the role of innocent bystander, and instead becomes an accomplice in the questionably taboo depicted activities. Malaska goes on to intensify the effect of this forceful role reversal through an aesthetic of brute brushstrokes, ghostly smears, and evocative drips. In the end, her canvases—in all their inhospitality—open onto parallel realities and new perspectives.
Born in Portland, OR, Elizabeth Malaska earned her MFA from the city’s Pacific Northwest College of Art after honing her practice in such diverse locations as Rome, Italy and Bar Harbor, ME. Her work has been exhibited nationally at various institutions including Portland’s Froelick Gallery, Disjecta, and San Francisco’s California College of the Arts, where she also received her BFA. In addition to teaching painting at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, she was recently named a finalist for The Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant and the Fine Arts Work Center fellowship in Provincetown, MA. This is her first exhibition at Nationale.
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