Carolynda Macdonald, Jean Pierre Arboleda, Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman at KP Projects

Jean Pierre Arboleda, Blossom, The Revivalist, KP Projects; Image courtesy of the gallery

Connection and Magic Between Species

KP Projects, Los Angeles
through April 24, by appointment

Written by Genie Davis
Three strong solo shows reveal the interconnectedness between all living things at KP Projects. The exhibition is beautiful, with a range of classic styles, and masterful technique, each with a magical and slightly surreal edge.

In Carolynda Macdonald’s Sanctum, love, desire, turmoil and protectiveness all play a role in a magnificently rich series of works revolving around birds and hidden, perhaps secret, selves. The dark, rich oil palette evokes paintings from the early Victorian era; but the subject matter, both graceful, mysterious, and bold is not only an alternative, preternatural world, it is a self-contained one. Perhaps all work right now is filtered for me through a pandemic lens, but the humans lovingly detailed and residing within the bodies of the equally perfectly rendered birds seem both safely contained and captured in a limited space. They seem compelled to stay within the bodies of the birds, in a kind of symbiosis, as if that space was the essence of life. Macdonald describes the works as “ornithological studies from a lost world.” The birds who bear these humans also seem to be conduits to human feeling.

In “Sleepwalker,” two dozing humans with Cupid raising his bow nearby rest within the luminous body of a bird with green and blue head, red rimming it’s eye, and the safe, compact body of a beautiful pigeon. Clad in an elaborate gown, the young woman in “Rendezvous” looks toward an unseen love while reaching for a flower. She resides inside an elegant, glowing green bird with an ebony head, perched on a rock beside a darkening body of water.

The long sharp beak of a pink-feathered, flamingo-like bird seems well suited to the humans its body holds. Its oval breast contains struggling men vying with one another for an equally struggling woman; the battle between men and woman rages for two different goals. The dim and isolated landscape behind the avian creature depicted in “Fighting Spirit” fits the desolate striving of the human struggle; the human image itself, in position if not subject, also recalls religious images by Michelangelo.

Jean Pierre Arboleda’s dreamy oil series The Revivalist echoes Rousseau in his spiritual, mystic world, one that is focused on peaceful, intelligent animals. The images have a strong quality of magical realism, as well as presenting ideas of kindness and conservation as a counter-balance to the harshness of the “real” world. The title of the series invokes the idea of the ministerial, the holy, and a new way of looking at the animal kingdom, all in one. “The Beloved” is a finely textured, love-filled work, in which a radiant monkey strokes a precious-to-him frog. Other frogs sit at his crossed feet, clearly viewing him as a beloved being as well. Butterflies surround a greenery crown on the sweet simian’s head. “Blossom” also glows with radiant sweetness; here a baby rhino is adorned with pink flowers. The pangolin in “Antediluvian” is curled near brilliantly colored mushrooms, positioned by wonderful pale purple flowers. The series itself feels like a blessing.

Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman No Living Creature Knows also embodies the magical and surreal with an oil and tempera glow. Here, deceptively delicate female figures follow their personal daemons or animal guides through allegorical fables within Sullivan-Beeman’s signature golden palette. Her dream-based work explores the unconscious and the unknown through masterful technique and fairy-tale fantasy as filtered through a feminist lens. There is a storied wisdom, a sense of the legendary in each of her scenes. “Lotus” takes us on a ride in a small boat, where the girl appears guided by the steering of a suited rabbit as the small craft navigates the floral waters. In “Seahorse,” the large titular figure reveals a treasure chest to a classically dressed young girl perched on another treasure chest, both of them far beneath a soft blue sea. In “Flamingo Girl,” the young woman’s stance and dress color both mirror that of a gracefully dancing large salmon-colored flamingo as she reaches toward the beckoning bird.

Each artist presents a unique and potent vision that reflects exceptional, classic style, technique, and palette while offering an original and mystical vision beyond the realm of ordinary routine. Enter this lush dreamscape through April 24th.

KP Projects
633 N La Brea Ave #104, Los Angeles, 90036

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