Many of us recently have had to dive into the deep end to find a range of physical and emotional resources to deal with our new normal. Yet, some of us have always found the deep end to be our area of choice - your feet can’t touch the bottom, the water is always colder and it requires a measure of fearlessness, but there’s great joy in the jump, and the excursion can be delightful.
Lorraine Peltz’s paintings in The Deep End provide us with the rewards of wading in deeper. Her new work unabashedly confronts the sometimes conflicting ideas of beauty, pleasure, love, and loss, particularly in relation to women - as she has done for over her 30 year career as an artist. But in this case the work takes on new dimensions, including a no-holds-barred attitude toward paint and subject matter. We are offered in this exhibition two bodies of work, related but distinct. In one series, where the paintings are titled Electric Bouquet, Peltz looks to her 17th century Dutch predecessors, specifically female flower still life painters, such as Rachel Ruysch, and riffs on those paintings. She reconfigures the genre using a contemporary vernacular and a range of painting techniques - including spray paint and handmade stencils. These Dutch painters and their fecund motifs are quite significant, yet have only recently been reinserted into the canon of art history. In these paintings, Peltz intends to bring the overlooked back into view, while overturning the hierarchy of subject matter once again. Floral still life painting, often relegated to those female painters of the Dutch guild, was deemed less serious while nonetheless, well collected.
In the other group of paintings with mysterious and evocative titles such as Dark Paradise, Another Enchanted Evening, or And It Was All Yellow, Peltz takes some of those elements from the bouquet paintings and joins them with her own personal visual iconography such as the speech bubble and red lips, and creates a playful but poignant narrative of love and desire.
Diving into the deep end of this emotive and provocative imagery yields fields of powerful painted events, and evokes deep reflections on memory, place, beauty, and joy. We could surely use some of that right about now.