MICHELLE BLADE // pansy
On view May 3–June 4, 2019
Opening reception Sunday, May 5 (3–5 p.m.)
With Pansy, her debut solo show at Nationale, painter and installation artist Michelle Blade melds iconic imagery and unruly mediums to demonstrate the unpredictability of painting. Pulling partly from the narrative of the Garden of Eden, Blade focuses her artistic energies on Eve, and other feminine mediations of her spirit in this newest work. In an attempt to explore the feminine relationship to the land, to knowledge, and to a sense of community, these paintings evoke a magical quality, depicting large-scale scenes of the garden and the earth in dreamy shades of pinks, blues, and yellows. In the traditional narrative, Eve is scorned for her defiance. However, in Pansy, the expectations are reversed and the unforeseen beauty and strength of the feminine are revered. Just as humans are unpredictable and far from foolproof, in each of her pieces, Blade explores a personal coming to terms with how perhaps it was a woman’s doing that set the path forward to everything else but perfection. As a result, Blade navigates our attention to the particular synchronicity humans share in the creation of everything in our immediate and tangible worlds.
The paintings presented are all on satin, a new format of expression for Blade. The artist deems the material “alive” in that it shifts with each stroke of the brush. Unpredictable and independent, much like Eve herself, the satin allows the paint to bleed in unprecedented ways, the acrylic ink becoming so fluid that it resembles watercolors over anything else. Due to its sheer nature, it also allows for light to leak through in a similar fashion, adding an ethereal, almost divine luminosity to the works. In the bleeding of the ink, there form abstractions which we can liken to a physical representation of the mysteries of the universe. Presented as meditations on beauty and the natural world, paintings like Pansies, in which a woman is communing with a snake, are overt in their symbolism while coyly presenting a duality of the female. She may give in to speaking with the snake, but she is also fearless for doing so. As a whole, this exhibition questions these historically gendered tropes and ultimately comes to the conclusion that perfection is to be neither expected, nor exalted.
Michelle Blade is a visual artist working in painting, sculpture, and installation. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Center for Contemporary Arts-Santa Fe, Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht, Netherlands, Jack Hanley Gallery-SF, Johansson Projects, Roberts & Tilton, and Western Exhibitions. Her work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Gather Journal, GQ, Juxtapoz, The California Sunday Magazine, and Blue Magazine among others. Clients include The Thing Quarterly, Chronicle Books, RVCA, Air BnB and Facebook. She is a founding member of the Los Angeles art collective, The Binder, and holds a BA from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and an MFA from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco.