Marrow Sucker – Disconsolate Beauty
Luna Anais Gallery at Wonzimer, Los Angeles
through April 3
Written by Genie Davis
Molly Segal’s Marrow Sucker, currently on display with Luna Anais Gallery at Wonzimer in downtown Los Angeles, is a stellar example of Segal’s characteristically dark but visually exciting and richly, minutely detailed work. Both landscape and humans are tenuous, tragic, and beautiful. The exhibition marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in LA.
Dystopian yet somehow hopeful, filled with both longing and a surreal sense of being too late to the party, too late to save the world, her work is poetic and haunting. As its title infers: humans are wringing every last drop of food – both emotional and physical – out of this planet, and each other. And yet, what remains is the choicest, innermost part, hidden in the bones. Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s not too late, despite the the human inclination to entropy.
There is a strange luminosity to the artist’s work, created in watercolor and gouache on yupo, as in the glowing images of water-like waves of flame in “Hard and Fast,” or “Little Fire Study.” Segal’s “No One Wants to Be the Last to Leave” gives us water that looks like flame, equally destructive, alive, over-spilling, the mist rising like smoke. In “Trickle Down,” ghostly blue oil pumps, their motion flowing like suspended rain, drip their poison into a passing stream.
Like her landscape images, Segal’s living beings exude both beauty and loss. “Maybe We’ve Always Been Alone” resonates deeply in the isolation of pandemic times, as a scattering of graceful birds form a loose flock in the sky. Their wings, their formation, their cluster, exude a sense of longing – to be together, to take flight, to soar individually as well as collectively through life. But any chance of life has been lost to the tragically beautiful bee in “Le Petit Mort,” and to what is now just a skeleton lying in spectacularly beautiful blue and brown and green dirt in “No Match for the Air.” In the end, we are all bones, and Segal postulates if we are not careful, everything in the living world is at the tipping point to become no match for the air.
Yet, in “What I Needed Was More,” humans couple in a twisted mass of limbs in decadent disregard next to a heap of equally jumbled discarded tires. The landscape is empty desert and stilled windmills, the only sign of life besides its detritus, is this human coupling, fierce against the arid landscape.
“Drought Tolerance” is a study in brown sorrow and compassion: dying, dried plants, a disconsolate girl and boy. And yet there is hope in the aspect of the boy and girl, a hope which rises almost like a hidden undercurrent of compassion in even the darkest of Segal’s works.
In a way, the very darkest of these paintings is the pandemic-appropriate “Superspreader,” which lacks that compassion. Here, blue figures with the orange flame of contagion in their limbs and bellies make contact. This image echoes far beyond the present time. The superspreading could be intolerance, false beliefs, or even futility. The colors used in this work are similar to those of the birds in “Maybe We’ve Always Been Alone.”
Phoenix Rodman, co-director of Luna Anais Gallery, feels a personal resonance with Segal’s “Counterweight.” She says, “It captures the angst around humanity’s cognitive dissonance between pursuit of frivolity and pleasure – with the roller coasters, sex, and fuel extraction – and pursuit of a holistic sense of well-being.” She notes “At first glance… depending on the viewer, there is an immediate sense of harmony that turns to horror or a sense of horror that resigns to harmony.”
Rodman describes the artist’s work as exhibiting “courage and adherence to her own unique sense of truth, coupled with her aesthetic and technical talent… this exhibition is eerily appropriate to the pandemic…in a poetic, non-literal sense. Which makes it all the deeper.”
She notes that the exhibition is held at Wonzimer Gallery in a spirit of collaboration and partnership, as Luna Anais looks forward at innovative ways to connect art and audience.
Segal’s show does just that – connecting her prescient and poignant vision about the state of the planet with an audience that can’t help to appreciate its terrifying beauty.
621 S Olive St, Los Angeles, 90014