LAUNCH LA is proud to present New World, a new solo exhibition by Alexandra Dillon. In this exhibition, Dillon paints a surrealistic bestiary, resonant with the influence of Pieter Breugel’s fallen angels and Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits.
Dillon’s world is peopled with strange chimeras, animal and vegetable human hybrids, all posing gracefully and proudly for official portraits. Some paintings depict doll-like debutants, stiffly locked in dances with their partners, decked in skirts printed with alternate faces they can wear. Her self-portraits, however, are radically different and self-effacing. Artful bouquets of flowers grow over her face and obscure her eyes and their emotional context. These paintings interrogate the classical ideal of the coy beauty behind the fan, that the half revealed is always more sensually aesthetic. In some of these portraits Dillon has sunk so far into the anonymity of flowers that the only indication of her body is a ghostly outline hovering over the background. Those full smiles are unsettling without input from her eyes: it feels like we are being lied to.
Dillon’s paintings are rich with symbolism. The winding ribbons that run through her work, like roots reaching out or streamers flying in a gale, are representative of ‘strange family ties’. In the painting ‘Mother’, these ties all lead back to the subject’s disembodied smile. This time nothing is obscured, the rest of this mother is simply absent. There are also ducks with hands, the artist’s take on the ‘quackery of false adult-hood’. Puns aside, this wing-hand arrangement gives one the sense that these beings are too clumsy to handle the delicate responsibilities of adulthood, especially the fostering of children.
There is hope in Dillon’s work, however, especially in her portraits of ‘shamans’, young men ordinary in every way but for the strange antennae arrays growing from their heads in fascinatingly varied arrangements. With these antennae, Dillon envisions that her subjects can tap into and achieve a ‘consciousness shift towards enlightenment’. It suggests hope for a bright future, that the younger generations, despite all our fears for them, have their own wise leaders beyond the circle of elders. This tenuous hope is a future in which humanity has mutated in order to adapt to the world it inhabits, a future in which the subterfuge of artificiality has long fallen out of fashion.
Alexandra Dillon’s education has taken her from UCLA to New Orleans and Florence, Italy. Though she initially pursued television and film studies, she has since appeared in group and solo shows across California and select locations in the South Eastern United States. These venues range from the Appleton Museum of Art in Florida to the Italian Cultural Institution in San Francisco. This is her first exhibition with LAUNCH LA.
This group of surrealistic paintings explores themes from the land of the subconscious: questionable caretakers, hybrid creatures and mixed-up personae.
Here on the mental landscape, young men from suburbia sprout strange head growths, which serve as shamanistic antennae and allude to the burgeoning consciousness shift toward enlightenment. Flower-filled portraits question identity and debutant doll-like girls in face-filled skirts seek to navigate other, more authentic selves. Squiggly lines represent strange family ties, and ducks with hands stand in for egocentric parents and the quackery of false adult-hood.
The process of painting this collection brought me new insights into the role of parent, child and spiritual being. I’ll continue to press on into this uncharted territory.
– Alexandra Dillon, 2013