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Louise Bonnet’s Absurdist World of Grotesque Beauty at Nino Mier Gallery

Louise Bonnet’s third solo exhibition at Nino Mier Gallery draws inspiration from Agnes Varda's enigmatic film Vagabond (1985) about a drifter, Mona, traversing the French countryside. These seven large paintings made during the pandemic lockdown evoke the feeling of being adrift - the new existential dilemma we all had to face alone with the loss of our usual structures for living.  

These paintings of discontinuous scenes recall still cinematic images from a pan shot, since we know they are part of a longer narrative but we can only imagine what happened before and after what we see. Bonnet told me she likes to watch movies with the sound off because it allows her a greater use of her imagination. Her paintings communicate powerful emotions even though the faces of the characters are unseen - either covered by helmets of blond hair or headless. Instead, she uses body contortions and hands to suggest the emotional states of her characters. She also eliminates eyes so that her figures cannot gaze back at the viewer because they are emotional receptacles rather than individuals. 

The Los Angeles-based Geneva-born artist draws as much inspiration from horror films as Renaissance and Medieval paintings - spiced by an absurdist sense of humor inspired by Robert Crumb and Basil Wolverton underground comix, which are popular in Switzerland. 

Trained in illustration and graphic design, Bonnet fell in love with the medium of oil paint - after years of working in acrylic - much as she fell in love with film as a child because it opened a door to a world where she could explore emotional depth through light effects.