October 6 – November 17, 2018
Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition with Australian artist Madeleine Pfull, opening October 6th and on view through November 17th, 2018 at 7313 Santa Monica Blvd. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, October 6th from 6-8pm.
Born and raised in an inner Sydney suburb, Pfull’s exhibition illustrates a stylized narrative of a complex suburban universe inspired by her youth. Littered with images and subjects that are familial, humorous and peculiar, the paintings center around the lives of these richly imagined characters. The subjects she paints exude a specific type, mostly middle-class women, likely from the 1980s. Her women wear big-box store clothing, live in homely domestic interiors, but with an earnestness and sense of pride that makes them all more intellectually interesting. Pfull explains that ‘they appear as the quotidian details of middle-class suburbs. They can appear fed up or bored but it is more of a sense of importance and stoicism. There is an exploration of pride. I am preoccupied with the everyday worth that comes from living an ordinary life. Beautifully painting mundane heroism is a large aspect of my work.’
Pfull’s process of painting is integral to understanding the work as an expanded self-reflection of herself and her upbringing: the artist models for herself in wigs, garb and aging makeup, and develops and fully acts out specific character’s mannerisms, like the way a person would hold their cigarette, look through their glasses or put on airs. Pfull goes deeper in explaining that she also imagines herself inserted into this mundane suburban world – to her, she is perhaps enacting a vision of one potential future for herself. Describing it as both comforting and terrifying to see herself as occupying a similar space as her characters portray, she explores issues of age, heritage, banality and storytelling with an honest and humorous light.
The artist builds a complex world around these characters, who make repeat appearances and have specific storylines. Gerbera I and Gerbera II depict a woman who came in last in a flower arranging competition, her use of cheap gerberas flowers being the reason for her failure, but also a reflection of her sweet yet naïve personality that makes her proud despite her more refined competition. The artist is interested in the sluggish perpetuation of her storytelling not only as a reflection of the slow pace of the community but as a kind of reaction to today’s fast-paced ingestion of over-dramatic serialized entertainment. Pfull also repeats the same scene twice, changing only minute details to lessen the pace further, yet in turn, gives the characters more space to develop. She explains that using only one portrait to try and make a character seem whole is difficult, but having two scenes with subtle differences creates a flow of movement like animation, bringing them to life. Moreover, one portrait shows the characters’ tougher exterior that they would present to the world, whereas the other is an unguarded moment.
The subjects could be one of many mothers, aunts and neighbors, with their familiar awkward sweaters, botched perms, floral aprons and old-fashioned curtains. Most of the works grow richly from these known phenotypes, and the artist enjoys when the viewer enhances the character’s narrative by implying extended storylines. Pfull explains further that her work articulates her fascination with taste and expressing one’s social status and personal pride through material things. For the women she portrays, she asserts that the ones who try the hardest to appear superior are the ones most uncomfortable with their lack of taste. This duality to their identity, of inferiority and superiority, is exaggerated through the medium of painting, where, like the current embracing of retro culture and fashion, time adds prestige to kitsch.