New Paintings by Eileen Starr Moderbacher
Curated by Clark Buckner
March 14th-April 12, 2008
Moderbacher’s paintings frequently are framed by piles of garbage set in suburban and post-industrial wastelands. Her vision of the modern world verges on the apocalyptic, and she constructs scenes in the midst of this refuse by drawing upon the fragments of narratives from history, popular culture, and personal life. In both form and content, her painting practice is rooted in collage. When planning her compositions, Moderbacher cuts and pastes photographs, film stills, magazine clippings, and pictures of her own friends and family to construct images that hang together only loosely by the threads of unconscious associations. And she formally reinforces this eclectic pastiche by using diverse painting techniques to articulate different parts of a piece. An illustrated black and white figure of Ingrid Bergman as Joan of Arc being burned at the stake might be set off against a more painterly landscape, littered with trash, and juxtaposed to a colorful, flatly painted comic book heroine coming to the rescue. Moderbacher’s compositions imply stories, which tend to be dark and haunting, riddled with danger and vulnerability, like mysteries from film and roman noir. But the narratives remain disconnected and dreamlike, which adds to the sense of anxiety that permeates her work. What is happening here? The artist and her audience find themselves faced only with evidence of a crime in process, which doesn’t add up to a coherent story, but nevertheless requires that they act!
For her show at MISSION 17, Moderbacher will present a new body of paintings, which focus for the first time on female characters. The work explores myths of heroism and feminine identity – the lover, the helpless victim tied to the train tracks, the femme-fatale, the bomb-shell, and the muscular super-hero, among others – both to explode the stereotypes they present and to explore their seductive power.