Evoking Dutch genre paintings, intimate scenes peer into the lives of mushroom figures

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Inasmuch as

Art

#insects #mushrooms #painting

September 27, 2021

Grace Ebert

“La siesta” (2021), oil on cradled wood panel, 16 x 20 inches. All images © Bella Ormseth, shared with permission

In his ongoing series Human nature, dutch artist Bella Ormseth painted lavish domestic scenes inhabited by central mushroom figures and a cohort of oversized plants and insects. The evocative subjects come from those the artist encounters around his home in Puget Sound off Washington and resemble humans in their gestures and poses, whether draped in a chair during a nap, embracing wine and oysters, or staring out the window.

Each of the oil-based pieces is a study of Dutch genre paintings and their light, composition, color palettes and techniques – Ormseth shares insights into his process and longer descriptions of specific references on his website. The ornate, tied curtains in “The Nap,” for example, mimic those in Johannes Vermeer’s newly restored “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window,” while “The Conversation” (shown below) works in the under -kind portekijkjeor look-through, which offers a view of one room while in another, with the intimacy of family ties present in Pieter de Hooch’s “The Bedroom” and “A Woman with a Child in a Pantry”.

Although the works glean common elements from the Dutch Golden Age, Ormseth veils each with contemporary contexts, including the pandemic-induced loneliness that emanates from the character in “Waiting by the Window.” She further explains in A declaration:

Dutch genre paintings, with their depiction of everyday scenes of ordinary life, marked an important turning point in Western art away from biblical and historical subjects. It stirs me to see this elevation of domestic life to a subject of art – to see not just beauty but something profound in the daily affairs of life…As I look to history for guidance, my paintings depict my own time. The idea for a painting always starts with an emotional response to something happening in the world, whether in my own life or in the world at large.

“The Nap” is currently playing until October 2 at Gallery Coproand Ormseth is working on another Human nature piece for a collective exhibition in January at Gallery Roq La Rue in Seattle. She’s also starting a new series about a group of adventurous women in the 1920s and their connection to the intertidal life of the Salish Sea, which you can follow instagram. (Going through It’s not happiness)

“The Booth in the Back” (2020), oil on cradled wood panel, 24 x 18 inches

“Waiting by the Window” (2021), oil on cradled wood panel, 12 x 9 inches

“The Conversation” (2020), oil on cradled wood panel, 24 x 18 inches

“The Wish” (2020), oil on cradled wood panel, 20 x 16 inches

“Abandoned Reading” (2019), oil on cradled wood panel, 24 x 18 inches

#insects #mushrooms #painting

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