New Work at Pirate Contemporary Art / by Monique Crine

I will have new series of paintings – Pink Carnations – on view at Pirate Contemporary Art May 28 – June 13, 2010. Gallery is open Friday from 6-10, and Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 5, or by appointment.

On Pink Carnations

I have a photograph by Monique Crine, one she gave me in exchange for one of my own works. It is safely filed into a drawer I have titled Collections. When I open the drawer, what looks back at me is a hangover in the shape of a middle-aged woman. Late middle. She sits embedded in a nest of pillows, sheets, a fan, a phone, all those accoutrements of comfort. She looks like hell. As I understand it, this is an image of the artist’s mother.

The absence in Pink Carnations of the maternal figures that populate nearly all of Crine’s previous works stands out. We might take the title as a reference to the Virgin Mary’s tears shed during her son’s plight (the story goes that the first pink carnations grew from where her tears struck the earth). So it would seem that suffering, disappointment, and regret in their maternal forms are left outside the frame but nevertheless bear upon the work as an absence. Crine here presents a group of paintings depicting young men and women in everyday situations, apparently selected from snapshots, as opposed to the cinematic references and allegories of her earlier works. Crine makes this shift from intentional artistic construction to the aesthetics of informal photography not without some violence.

The photographic image is among other things an attempt to arrest time, to wrest a moment from death only to produce a memento of that death. To paint from this memento can be an attempt to invest time back into the image. Anyone who has attempted this knows that there is no going back, no recovery of lost time, and that no amount of labor can close the gap between experience and representation, though it can perhaps make an account of its decay.

In a break with past works, Crine here presents a group of unposed images. In ClintMike, and Dan, the male portraits in the group, the subjects have posed themselves, but, since Crine chose the images from her personal collection long after the fact, they are not posing for an artist and could not have anticipated the future destination of their images; they pose themselves instead for a friend or lover. The two women in the group are caught in moments of affective extremes. Lindseyis ambiguous—the figure in the image could be crying or laughing; Britany less so, though the protrusion of a man’s hand and forearm from outside the frame (the only image that contains two bodies) implies that she is or has been acted upon.Lindsey is passive as well, while Clint and Mike gaze back at us. In Dan, the man’s eyes are averted, fixed on the camera he’s holding in his lap, perhaps unconsciously positioned as a tumid phallus, an index to the eros and violence of the camera.

Pink Carnations invites such speculations onto the identity of the individuals—the titles imply the arbitrariness of the individuals’ names—but to dwell for too long on these forms of speculation is to miss the ways in which the images themselves think, providing avenues for reflection not onto artistic intention but on the aesthetic unconscious of everday life, its pauses, and unthought moments.            —Anthony Graves 2010