In his pithy poem “Birds of Passage/Music of the Common,” Walt Whitman writes: “Sing me a track no poet but has chanted.” At all times a magical species, the present solo exhibition “Audrey Francis: Chicken Mind” at LABspace in Hillsdale provides a lyrically lush visible encounter with birds as the main focus of this painterly ballad. On this lovingly put in present, 27 beautiful oil work and works on paper take us on an surprising journey with birds in scenes each acquainted and offbeat, alternating between imaginative environments which can be one-part Mom Nature, one-part eccentric abstraction. Francis provides a seamless mash-up of types together with surrealist touches and occasional Pop-inspired outbreaks, all grounded in balanced compositions.
Along with her main deal with feathered fellows and their avian adventures, Francis conjures beautiful realms for them to disclose their legendary tendencies and symbolic that means. A deeper dive into the artist’s assertion discloses her ideas about birds as attendant metaphors and messengers of political and even feminist narratives. We observe the later in (Ladybird) Star Io (2023), for instance, a piece that’s without delay ethereal, futuristic, and harking back to the feminine labia in a state of lusty bloom. One other admirable side of Francis’ world-building with birds is her means to include features of style, sample, and design parts with out going overboard.
The artist feedback that birds play numerous roles and double as enigmatic surrogates that embody her views on advanced social points. Pet (2023), for instance, tinkers with the notion of birds as silent witnesses. Right here we see the splendid again of a dark-skinned lady, her hair pulled up neatly into a strong bun and adorned with cheerful daises. A black chook is tucked secretly into her elegant bouffant, virtually undetectable. She faces ahead, wanting straight right into a heat inexperienced haze as an summary explosion of black shards explodes outward and reverberates the identical darkened tone of her coiffure, hinting at Francis’s Latina roots.
One other work, Invisible (2023), portrays a chook in a small ecological, psychedelic temple with 4 wheels that seem like spinning and melting concurrently, their vibrant power enclosing the chick inside. Whereas all of the artworks on this present are sincerely spectacular, the anchor is Desirables (2023), a gem of a portray that encompasses a ravishing menagerie of birds inhabiting a sculptural form that dances round them in a flourishing yellow habitat. Every of the 20 birds on this work look instantly at us, and their chromatically silky our bodies are a surprise to behold.
This pleasant exhibition is extra like a sequence of quick tales that exalt the enchanting nature of birds—is there’s a sinister edge someplace in there? Possibly I missed it (certainly a number of darker canvases counsel playful chaos). These artworks hum with the attraction of Francis’s thoughtful rendering of her sleek fowl, capturing their vulnerability and dignity. Her bird-filled narratives are welcoming, variety, colourful, and curious. The magnificence of this present hovered with me for days, as if the melody of the orchestra of birds remained chanting in my mind.