Girls, Girls, Girls: Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman at La Luz de Jesus
By Sara Fortson
Through November 26th
In Girls, Girls, Girls, Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman seamlessly blends 14th Century techniques with contemporary musings on what it means to be a a girl in the 21st Century. Each painting in this exhibition explores a different facet of femininity and girlhood, and a different facet of every woman. Sullivan-Beeman explores the complicated reality of being female in her newest exhibition at La Luz de Jesus.
All of the paintings in the exhibition utilize the same color palette and Sullivan-Beeman uses the Old Master media of egg tempera to portray contemporary depictions of feminine identity and what it means to be a “girl.” Each painting portrays a different element of the artist’s imagination and each one has a personality and sense of whimsy of it’s own. It appears that each painting even has a life of their own, and not only are they communicating with the viewer, but they are communicating with each other. Painting some of the works simultaneously, Sullivan-Beeman allows the characters to develop organically, and to speak to one another, creating a cohesive representation of her imagination at the time of creation.
Though they paintings are done with 14th Century sensibilities, they have a Margaret Keane feeling of exploration, of innocence and wonder, while still maintaining relevance to modern consciousness. Sullivan-Beeman travels through many different time periods to land in the present, presenting a unique view of girlhood and innocence. The subjects of the paintings are typically young and innocent, but seem to have a wisdom that is inexplicable. The characters stare back at the viewer with a knowing gaze, and leave a lasting, but haunting impression. The haunting, however, is not unsettling, but comforting in that the paintings are feeling things that women have felt for centuries.
The artist keeps a dream journal, from which the subjects of her paintings spring, full formed as Athena from Zeus. The subjects are from the artist’s imagination, and express thoughts and feelings that come from a deep subconscious. Girls that wear ball gags, perch on turtles and inhabit Hieronymus Bosch surrealist existences symbolize different experience that the artist is familiar with in some capacity. However odd the predicament the subject in the painting may be in, the subject always has control over the situation and is never helpless or hopeless in their world. The girl wearing the ball gag also holds the ropes that tie her hands, signaling that she is in control of the scene. The girl perched upon the turtle is holding a skull as a memento mori, and has a deadpan expression. She is bold and unafraid. The girl inhabiting the Garden of Earthly Delights is of Alice In Wonderland proportions, and not perplexed by her surroundings. She is exactly where she wants to be, no matter how peculiar or outlandish the surrounding environment is.
In Girls, Girls, Girls, Sullivan-Beeman depicts girlhood as power, and femininity as authority. The subjects of her paintings are not passive depictions of damsels in distress or young, innocent beings confused by their surroundings, but girls who embrace their naiveté, and create their own realities with their own rules.
Girls, Girls, Girls: Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman at La Luz de Jesus is on display until November 26th, 2017.
La Luz de Jesus is located at 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.