The Proposition Gallery is pleased to present New York-based artist Megan Burns’ Virago, her second solo exhibition of oil paintings at the gallery, opening on Thursday, November 6th (with a reception from 6-8 pm) and showing until December 13th.
Inspired by the dually defined virago, (derived from the latin vir, meaning “a man,” also the name Adam gave to Eve), which refers to either a quarrelsome, scolding, shrewish woman or the more archaic denotation of a heroic/warrior woman of great strength, stature and courage; Burns’ new compositions embody the latter interpretation, with female figures that are both monumental and bold, yet deliberately possessing faces void of identifiable emotion or revealing internal thoughts. They are ciphers, empty and beautiful. They are at once an example and a parody of virago.
Using her own face and body as a template; retaining a natural continuation of subject, theme and visual style that she introduced in her previous series, Agents of C.L.O.N.E., (her first solo exhibition at The Proposition in 2007) Burns’ image pervades this series of paintings, rendering the viragos likeness generic by sheer repetition. The flesh-suits, often appearing as a uniform when multiple figures inhabit the same painting, reveal all the details of the form in a way that is erotic, but not explicit, borrowing heavily from the spandex costumes of comic book characters, but in a more overt fashion that infuses their form-clinging coverage and simplicity with a slightly more provocative resemblance to that of the scantily clad attire of pin-ups.
Citing comic book covers and the front of paperback novels featuring enticing female figures as influences, Burns explains that she set out to recreate the same feeling achieved by those sources, with the intention of focusing on the girl and dispensing with the charade of the story found within the pages altogether. In her painting, Huntress, for example, the viewer is presented with a fantastic science fiction-esque scene displaying an upturned female figure, showing more flesh than fabric and clutching what appears to be a pair of scissors while laying motionless amidst a rather large organic crevice overflowing with translucent balloon-like capsules. There is neither a narrative explanation for the circumstances, nor are there any additional characters or immediately recognizable objects/settings for one to easily develop. Instead, we are left with questions: Did this woman fall from above? Is she sleeping? Was she unsuccessful in battle, or was her own hand (and scissors) involved in creating the rips and tears in her clothing? Could the small trail of smoke in the background be a clue?
Megan Burns is a Queens-based artist who grew up on the south side of Chicago. She received her MFA from Yale University in 2005. Prior to that she attended Sarah Lawrence where she studied art history and film theory. Virago is her second solo show. For additional information, please contact Ronald Sosinski by phone at (212) 242-0035 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11-6.
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November 6 - December 13, 2008