Siri Kaur and Rebecca Bird at Kopeikin Gallery
By Genie Davis
Through April 22nd
Brooklyn-based Rebecca Bird talks about her show. “Women” is somewhat of a departure from my earlier work. I am not usually figurative, but here I wanted to paint monumental women. I wanted to show unsung, typical people.”
Along with the large-scale paintings of women, Bird has included some of her cloud-like paintings, which despite the dreamy evocations actually represent explosions. “Here I’ve used explosions to represent interior state or mental representations of trauma; how we perceive it,” she relates. Showing different perceptions of the same event, Bird’s work reveals what Freud said about traumatic events, or as she summarizes, “What you remember is arbitrary.” The works are based on Freud’s “Screen Memory” theory, which states individuals often create a false memory to replace a disturbing one. Here, the paintings are based on a photograph of a nuclear bomb testing site, and her multiple retelling of this image ends up creating differing visual Screen Memory recollections.
The large scale, intensely realistic images of women that the Brooklyn-based artist has created were designed to satisfy her urge to write “ordinary” people large. Delicately, precisely detailed and yet towering in scale, these women are the epitome of female strength, earth mothers both overpowering and comforting. “I wanted these women to be intimidating and important,” Bird says.
The monumental scale of her work is based upon photographic images of women. The images Bird depicts are similar to the poses in family photos, made to preserve a family and cultural history, to record their peoples’ presence in this world. What Bird has done is to recreate and expand this presence in the style of traditional, historical paintings that reenact moments for historic record. Whereas many of those paintings feature patriarchal figures performing great or powerful acts, here those depicted are decidedly female and pictured in mundane moments that are nonetheless powerful for their existence in this world, and their impact on individual lives. These are caregivers, queen-like caregivers.
Overall, Bird’s works are thoughtful images that are somehow dream-like despite their realistic appreciation of detail.
Dream-like can also describe the works of Siri Kaur in “Crow’s Field,” photographic images that take place in an area of wide open farmland near the artist’s childhood home. Fantasies acted out on this landscape are reimagined in these photographs, making a surreal and sweet memorial to an era that is now lost or might never have really existed at all. Look at the tiny, miniature-like trees in “Snow Trees” or children playing on tip-toe in “Girls.”
While these artists are entirely different in medium and style, Kaur and Bird share a common note: an edge of the surreal, a vision both fantastical and yet grounded in reality.
Both shows are wonderfully evocative, create compelling intimate worlds, and expand upon reality in order to not so much subvert it — as to enhance it.
Kopeikin Gallery 2766 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034