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Nicole Charbonnet: wild things    Dec 16, 2011 - Feb 7, 2012

Tiger
Nicole Charbonnet
Tiger
 
Zebra
Nicole Charbonnet
Zebra
 
 
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Tayloe Piggott Gallery is pleased to present “wild things,” an exhibition featuring the recent mixed media paintings of New Orleans-based artist Nicole Charbonnet. The works will be on view from December 16thth, 2011 through February 7th, 2012. On Friday, December 16th, from 5 to 8 p.m., Tayloe Piggott Gallery will hold a festive opening reception for Charbonnet’s exhibition. The public is welcome to enjoy drinks and hors’ d’oeuvres while mingling amongst the incredible new works of Nicole’s third solo show at the Tayloe Piggott Gallery. Fellow artist, Kathryn Lynch, will simultaneously hold her first solo show at the gallery resulting in a wonderful array of paintings in the gallery.

Nicole Charbonnet’s upcoming exhibition will feature mixed media paintings of both animals found in the wild, as well as, her beloved cowboys of the Wild West. Whether her subjects are animals on the loose or cowboys riding freely, Nicole evokes our memories while capturing and distorting these icons of the wild and free. Her discerning representations bring into question both the relevancy and truth behind the notion of what is still truly wild.

In her painting, Charbonnet uses stereotypical images representative of America as a way to explore our past and present perceptions of ourselves and others, as well as our identity as citizens of a country that is now in a process of redefining its values. In her painterly process, Charbonnet takes images from our cultural landscape, especially Westerns and American film noir, and re-shapes the icons into something that is recognized from a time passed and now gone. She sees in her process of "erasing" the paint and overlaying additional layers something that both celebrates and criticizes the values portrayed by her subjects. “I’m raising questions about their current viability in a changed world. I make them look old and tired, though still beautiful, to ask if it's time to relegate them to memory."

As a result of her unique painting technique Nicole Charbonnet’s paintings offer a palimpsest of images that hint at past memories built up over time. She credits her native city New Orleans for giving her a heightened sense of the lingering effects of history. “If you watch New Orleans, you see everywhere the effects of the process of time on surfaces,” she says, adding “That’s true of every place, every person.” Exploring the ways we remember, both individually and collectively, and the ways we forget, she starts each work by memory, often an image that has existed in the culture of other paintings, on film or in nature. She then sands the paint down, forcing the memory of the initial image to fade beneath other pictures and words constructed from layers of collaged newsprint, posters, wallpaper samples, children’s storybooks and such. All these lurk above and below layers of pigment, gesso, cement, and sculpting paste. Charbonnet’s paintings are very textural and built up over long periods of time. The superimposition of textures, images, words, loose watery washes of paint and veils of translucent fabric or paper, creates a visual threshold in her work which is something to look at as well as to look through. These surfaces retain or reveal a “memory” of preexisting stages or structures. As Charbonnet says, “Nothing is ever completely gone, so even if you don’t hold a conscious memory of something, it forms the fabric and texture of who you are. I try to re-create the process your mind goes through in becoming what it is. You see something, and it reminds you of something else, another context, another feeling, even while the original image remains.” In this act the artist reveals less about herself and more about the process of making art.

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