SILVERMAN and Hamilton Square Condominium Association present
Michelle Doll, Winter Wind
Opening Reception: Wednesday, January 11, 6 to 8 p.m.
Hamilton Square Condominium
232 Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Exhibition on view January 11, 2012, to March 30, 2012.
Artist Michelle Doll creates evocative paintings of women. In her early work, she often presented herself—au naturel or partially dressed—in the bedroom or boudoir, attending to various beauty rituals. We saw her curl eyelashes, blow-dry hair, apply makeup and accessories. Frequently, a tableside lamp served as the only source of light. In her newer work, the setting is not as evident as before, and, in some cases, it’s a void.
This exhibition brings together a series of self-portraits that feature the artist against flat neutral backgrounds. Cool, delicate muted tones suggest scenes of tranquility. The uncluttered compositions recall the spare, austere style of Japanese prints, and yet the paintings exude a raw vitality, as thin dashes of paint animate the surfaces.
To create a sense of intimacy and power, Doll zooms in on her impassive countenance, and increases its scale to billboard proportions. Her isolated and introspective sitters, eyes closed in contemplation, appear to be outdoors, underdressed, and in full view of the public. To be stripped bare before a crowd of strangers (the viewers) is to suggest the world of dreams (or nightmares.)
What happens when an artist’s sense of personal security is shattered? That is the question that Doll asks in her current series of work.
In “Acoustic Shadow,” the artist wears a fur-lined Ushanka hat, as wayward strands of long blond hair whirl in front of her face. Doll pays close attention to the bushiness of the hat, which appears to be a cue to warmth or protection. To counter the suggestion of cold, Doll presents herself topless from the sternum up. She does not shy away from depicting the realities of the flesh–its slackness, its translucency, its vulnerability. In “Pane,” two vertical bands isolate the artist in the center of the composition. She leans forward, arms overhead, as the palms of her hands press against the glass windowpane. In “Stole,” a longhaired faux-fur scarf conceals the lower part of the artist’s face, just under the nose. Unlike her other paintings in this series that rely on a nondescript background, we see the faint outline of a building or façade, which appears in the distance like an apparition or half-realized memory.
In many cases, the figures seem to appear translucent, as a shoulder blade, an arm, or a neck dissolves into the picture plane. The effect is deliberate. To suggest the ephemeral, Doll paints, scrapes away, and repaints the figures, as they transition between a state of formation and dissolution.
To see these characters as victims would be easy but unwise. Their pale complexions are dotted by red licks, like licks of flame. A fire burns in these bellies and in these minds.
Although Doll offers her body to her audience, she refuses to make eye contact. By the mere act of closing her eyes, she shuts herself off from the viewer. To shun the viewer is not an act of submission but defiance: The viewers may have her body, but they will never know or possess the artist’s mind.
Doll received her BFA from Kent State University and her MFA from the New York Academy of Art. Her artwork has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries throughout the United States and internationally. She has received many awards including residencies in St. Barths and Normandy. In addition, she has curated exhibitions in NYC. Doll currently teaches art at Felician College and New Jersey City University. She lives and works in Hoboken, New Jersey.
~ Brendan Carroll, Curator
The exhibition will be on view at The Hamilton Square Condominiums through March 30, 2012. For further information, please visit us at SilvermanBuilding.com or call number (201) 435-8000.
Michelle Doll: Winter Wind is the sixth exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.
SILVERMAN has presented the works of Tim Heins, Megan Maloy, Laurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tom McGlynn, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa, Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.