Elizabeth Porcel and Alexandra Hemrick: The Garden of Earthly Delights, May to June 2020
In The Garden of Earthly Delights, Poem 88 presents the work of two newcomers both focused on the feminine in revolt against the patriarchy! (We love that.) Named after the work by Netherlandish Renaissance painter, Hieronymous Bosch, both Porcel and Hemrick seem to warn against the outcomes of our very corporeal nature and social constructs. Porcel's work, organic and painterly, provides a fulsome view of the more tortured aspect of Bosch's paneled triptych. Her paintings on canvas and panel explore medieval bestiary in a very modern way commenting specifically on the demands of motherhood. Images of lactating or dissected does, dogs, lady lions and other creatures intermingle with fantastical, almost primitive landscapes providing a novel approach to the highly decorative and symbolic tapestries that inspire her. Medieval bestiaries served to illustrate moral lessons whereas Porcel weaves biology and feminism into her mystical narratives.
Alexandra Hemrick's ongoing project, "Salon Suburbia," is defined by its use of the common, often mundane, visual language of suburbia and domestic life. Her paintings on carved panel and canvas, and sculptures, are hard-edged providing biting criticism of the banality and apparent danger of suburban life. Infinity signs painted to look like topiary and female forms rendered limbless and headless attest to veil of prettiness that disguises the repression of women in particular. In work after work, Hemrick questions the needless landscaping of the suburbs, like tightly manicured French gardens, that suggest a frustrating facade of perfection.
Like the titular work, Porcel and Hemrick strategically beguile the viewer with surreality, lush color, and dramatic compositions while simultaneously warning the viewer: the lives of women and mothers are not so delightful.
Porcel graduated summa cum laude in painting from SCAD; Hemrick graduated from Georgia Tech with a BS in Public Policy. In her final year as an undergraduate, she studied abroad at Worcester College, Oxford University focusing on art and architecture. As well, she studied at Hatahana Studio under painter Ilya Geftner in Tel Aviv, Israel. Both artists live in work in Atlanta's suburbs.