Emilie Stark-Menneg: Dream Team
14 January - 18 February 2017
Opening Reception: 14 January 2017, 5-8pm
Dream Team, 2016, 48 x 36 inches, acrylic and oil on canvas
kijidome is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Emilie Stark-Menneg, on view from January 14 to February 18, 2017
Emilie Stark-Menneg often renders fluid elements, like smoke, water, and fire, in her paintings. She bases some of this work on personal memories, which, like such ineffable vapors and liquids, are loose and hazy and thus provide ample space for the artist’s vibrant creative expansions. Knowingly amateurish and painted in a full-blown spectrum of day-glo colors, Stark-Menneg’s paintings offer pleasure and comedic release. Yet however cartoony and exuberant they appear, the content of her work often veers into ambivalent territory with references to themes of love and loss, migration and conflict.
Some of the paintings in Dream Team relate to the artist’s experience of traveling to Palestine several years ago. These works read not as actual events, but are psychedelic visions of containment and escape. Fire is both a comfort and a hazard: the tip of a cigarette in House Arrest becomes the hazy cloud occluding a man’s face who stands among others around a fire within a walled-off patio. In Dream House, a young family in a boat seeks refuge while hovering within an electric rainbow cube that is buoyed by four black palm trees.
The mythos of journeying across the sea as both a romantic and desperate endeavor also appears in The Potlach. This painting presents a frieze of tanned and sunburnt men wearing striped swimming trunks. Two nurses, identified by the red crosses emblazoned on their white uniforms, offer a further clue. This painting relates to an actual episode during World War II in which Emilie’s grandfather and fellow merchant marines survived in the Caribbean Sea for thirty-two days after their boat, The Potlach, was sunk by German torpedoes. Based on a photograph taken soon after their rescue, this painting captures the sense of extreme absurdity, loss of control, and stunned disbelief surrounding those who survived the ordeal.
The scrappiness of the survivors in The Potlach connects with how Stark-Menneg paints: she is resourceful, buoyant, and adventurous. She continuously experiments across different mediums and her methods for painting, sculpture, assemblage, and video mutually inform one another. She has recently been using alternative painting tools, such as an airbrush, that give her some physical distance from the canvas and enable the lightweight and atmospheric glow in much of her work. The motorized device fosters for Stark-Menneg the sensations of speed and immediacy that are more often associated with drawing than painting. Her artwork is warm, freewheeling, and sensual—all welcome attributes for surviving a cold New England winter.
Stark-Menneg has had solo exhibitions at the Leonard R. Craig Gallery, Unity College, Unity, ME and Makebish Gallery, Chelsea, NY. Her work was featured in the Portland Museum of Art Biennial, Portland, ME in 2015. She earned her BFA from Cornell University in 2007 and currently lives in mid-coast Maine.
Guest curated by Sarah Montross