French painter Marlene Mocquet brings the fanciful spirit of the childhood imagination to an adult psychological meltdown. The result is an aesthetically delectable nightmare and a mid-life crisis of the mind.
The paintings contain a delicate balance between spontaneity and precision; while some colors burst and bleed down the canvas, the characters are rendered in Max Ernst level detail. Mocuqet described her process to "Time Out: Hong Kong" as starting with "just an impulse." The artist, who considers herself highly analytical, begins by splashing color on a canvas as a starting point to dig deeper into her unconscious. Eventually a back and forth is created between Mocquet and her painting, each helping guide the other, determining the next move.
Mocquet's canvasses are inhabited by hybrid creatures with Manga's sweetness and Goya's horror. Complete with bulging eyes and alien hands, most of them bearing a facial expression somewhere between happiness and hunger. Needless to say the anthropomorphized blobs of paint are quite unsettling. Yet the playful colors could be a screen shot of a Pixar movie or confetti commercial.
While Mocquet's paintings are certainly childlike in form and content, her lumpy enameled ceramic sculptures look as if they were made by a deranged kid. Just look at a moldy birthday cake smiling vacantly as it melts to see an example of this process realized. We sense there are stories lurking behind each image of childhood parties gone terribly awry.
Marlene Mocquet's exhibition will show at Haunch of Venison in New York until June 16.