Sunday, March 21, 2010

Elizabeth Fox at d.o.c.s.

Elizabeth Fox lived in New Orleans for 18 years before relocating to Maine after Katrina. For 12 of those years, the Florida native worked as a receptionist at a local law firm, an environment that may have inspired this PAPER DOLL series of canvases exploring the glossy surfaces of life in the workaday world of executives and secretaries, as well as the shadowy nuances that underlie those pastel and earth tone facades. True to the title, her figures appear in role-playing scenarios based on everyday interactions rendered meticulously in a dreamlike style charged with psychic undercurrents. If the daydreams of secretaries and receptionists had an independent life of their own, this is what they might look like. For instance, PIN THE TAIL ON THE SECRETARY depicts a kind of stenographic Cosmo girl in pastel colors and heels. She clutches a notepad and her blank expression matches the bland walls of the office. This painting features a sidebar that contains a variety of tails ranging from flowers to animal appendages that might be metaphorically attached to the secretary’s posterior, suggesting any number of possible roles that could extend well beyond the office itself. In other words, there is a kind of Cosmo girl existentialism at work here.
     Secretary fantasies abound in canvases such as IN FOR THE KILL, where an icy blond princess nonchalantly touches up her makeup as a couple of guys duke it out, while GIRL WITH THE GOLD-LINED HOOD, top, and TOLL BOOTH, left are cinematic explorations of the dichotomy of intimacy and anonymity. Her domestic interiors such as INTENTIONS OF A SHADOW take us to a psychically fraught realm of Hitchcockian surrealism as a woman in a gauzy nightgown enters a bedroom, casting a long shadow over a man’s sleeping form. Her vibe is clearly transgressive, possibly sexual if not sinister. What’s going on? In these works, Fox explores a classic Middle American vein of repression offset by fantasy in a style that amounts to latter day Mannerism, that late renaissance modus known for elongated forms, precariously balanced poses and a collapsed perspective--only hers is a psychological Pop Mannerism that explores the weirdness inherent in the all too familiar workaday world around us. ~Bookhardt
SECRET LIFE OF A PAPER DOLL: Paintings by Elizabeth Fox.
Through March
d.o.c.s., 709 Camp St., 524-3936,  www.docsgallery.com