Mischievous Dogs, Moldy Fruit, and Crustacean Claws Unsettle Sabrina Bockler’s Still Lifes
February 27, 2023
Two small dogs with long, silky hair stand atop an elegant table, one pawing at a basket of fruit and the other retrieving a fish from a platter. A bowl of strawberries has already been upturned, flowers pulled from their arrangement, a thickly piped slice of cake squashed by careless gluttony. Rendered in acrylic on linen, the still life (shown below) is titled “Decadence and Disaster,” an apt phrase to describe much of Sabrina Bockler’s body of work.
The Brooklyn-based artist relishes in mischief and disruption, painting scenes of opulence destroyed by pets or unsettled by an uncanny, foreboding feeling. Her works often imply a painstaking labor visible only through the resulting decorations, the crustacean towers, perfectly sliced melon, and floral bouquets cascading from their vases. Given the domestic nature of the settings, those preparations are coded feminine and part of Bockler’s broader inquiry into the value of women’s work.
She shares with Colossal that while she references the history of Dutch still lifes, her uncanny, surreal approach asks viewers “to think beyond the traditional aesthetic, creating a sense of chaos within a decorative still life.” Instead, Bockler strives “to encourage a reexamination of traditional gender assumptions surrounding labor and its division. My practice allows me to directly consider the ways my identity and experiences as a woman inform my identity as an artist.”
If you’re in Los Angeles, stop by Hashimoto Contemporary to see “Old Fruit” and “Decadence and Disaster” as part of the group exhibition Potluck running through March 11. Bockler is also currently preparing for a solo show titled Menagerie that opens on May 13 at BEERS London, which will “(draw) on the notion of animals being used as symbols of social power or for decorative purposes.” Find more of her lavish works on her site and Instagram.
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