Danielle Orchard's "A Face For Every Season" @ Half Gallery
From featuring her in our Summer 2019 issue, over catching up during the first wave of lockdowns last year, to covering most of her most important exhibitions, we're excited to see Danielle Orchard sailing smoothly through the art waters. And the most recent stop on her journey is Half Gallery's LA location where she opened her southern California solo debut, on view through April 10, 2021.
"The narrative theme in this show is the anticipation and nervousness that shape the hours before women go out for the evening, and the ritual grooming familiar to many women who have had to spend hours in high heels and too-tight formal wear," Orchard told Juxtapoz about the focus of this important exhibition. Both presenting her great ability to elaborate on such a limiting subject matter and her potent and seemingly effortless painterly technique, A Face For Every Season is another successful attempt by the Brooklyn-based artist to celebrate and demystify different aspects of femininity. Dominated by her lounging muses depicted at different stages of the aforementioned routine, the artist strews an abundance of subtle hints revealing her personal familiarity and candid honestly about the subject she is working with. "These small preceding acts are often more meaningful and necessary than the main event,” the artist stated in the press release accompanying this exhibition whose title is a riff on the Dolly Parton lyrics to Turn, Turn Turn. Some of the nods to the concept of seizing the moment can be seen through the presence of such details as landline phone handles laying around, suggesting that the heroines don't want to be disturbed.
Many of the images seem to be purposely contrasting femininity as seen or expected by society against the more personal subtleties of what it means to be a woman. On one hand, the curvaceous nudes are surrounded with high heels, makeup, or flowers, but at the same time, they wear bandaids on their heels, don't show any expressions, and are indulging in pizza, hot dog, and cigarettes. While appearing as fragile and as seductive as they are expected to be, Orchard muses are in fact owning this moment of being the true self before putting on a face for the occasion. "A certain split consciousness is allowed to exist here, wherein women are exceedingly self-aware but also pleasantly lost in a sense of community," the artist told us about her experience of such moments.
With the set limitation of exclusively portraying interior scenes, Orchard is playfully exploring the perspective and scale in this body of work, smoothly and indistinguishably switching the points of view. Mostly being "in the room" with her muses, she also uses a closeup look at her sitters as well as provides a bird view of some of the scenes. Creating a strong sense of volume and light with her expressive brushwork, she is creating a believable shift of perspectives by showing a foot sole or a pointing big toe of her subjects. At the same time, the perspective of suggestive elements such as wine glasses, ashtrays, hair-covered razors, used panties, bowls with popcorn, or pizza slices, are depicted in a way so they are as recognizable as possible. While the confident brushstrokes create everything from pantyhose seams to plaster between the tiles and cloudy gradients construct a sense of depth and light play, Orchard experimentation with medium extends to paint dripping when depicting runny pantyhose or scratching to construct desired surfaces.
After missing the opening of her 2-person show with a long-time friend Nikki Maloof at V1 in Copenhagen last year and canceling their plans for a little Euro spring adventure, Orchard had to sit out her Cali debut as well. "Missing the install did feel like a bit of a sacrifice, and I could have used the LA sunshine, but I remind myself that I’m lucky to be in an industry that hasn’t ground to a halt, and instead continues to function in a new, amended fashion," the artist said, reminding us just how grounded and dignified her general outlook at life is. —Sasha Bogojev