Portia Munson: Paintings and Pink

September 22, 1994 - October 22, 1994

Yoshii Gallery is pleased to annouce an exhibition of Portia Munson’s paintings and Pink Project.

Munson’s unsettling, realistic oil paintings on linen present a laundry list of everyday objects elevated to icons and imbued with mysterious symbolism. As Leslie Camhi notes in her catalogue essay for the exhibition, Munson singles out objects with an intense gaze, “that seems to belong simultaneously to a mad housewife, a social scientist, and a minimal artist.”

The New York-based Munson draws her subjects from feminine domestic culture. Whether taken from the closet floor, musty attic, roadside junk shops or pantry shelves, objects often appear tossed aside and strangely animated in the paintings. Focusing on objects of the domestic sphere, whether food, clothing, toys, or pink things, Munson’s paintings touch on issues of feminism and disposable culture. Munson, however, adamantly denies a singular reading of her work, allowing instead for a variety of interpretations ranging from subtle violence, abjection and abandonment to nostalgia and sexuality.

In Bruised Bra a splayed white bra, rendered with crimson and blue accents and abandoned to a dark featureless landscape, hints at unspoken domestic violence. A delicate bread basket linen, Hot Rolls, has a hole worn through its threadbare center. In Dolphin Hairclip Under Glass a pink plastic hair clip shaped like a dolphin is displayed beneath a glass cover, its refraction distorting the clip into female genitalia. Pink Project’s impact, unlike the single painted images, is based on excessive accumulation. Amassed over a decade, Munson’s Pink Project includes such things as combs and hairbrushes, doll house furniture, tampon applicators, mirrors, figurines, baby bracelets and pacifiers, buttons, and air fresheners. Now, rather than a massive table piled high with pink objects, as it was seen earlier this year in the “Bad Girls” exhibition at The New Museum, the Pink Project takes the form of two glass-kilned curio cabinets. The first case contains a series of glass shelves with pink objects grouped by kind and neatly displayed in rows. In contrast, the second case is crammed to the top with a jumble of similar pink things. These curious monoliths face one another, seemingly engaged in a debate over the order and chaos of things pink. Following the Yoshii exhibition, the Pink Project will be included in ARS ’95 Helsinki at the Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art.