Essay by the curator
Off/Balance is an appropriate title for Patricia Bouley’s first solo show at the Prince Street gallery.
The artist seeks new territory by challenging assumptions, hidden histories, and the unsettled complexities
of human bonds. The twenty-one small pieces and three large paintings that make up the collection evoke
new perspectives by proposing a visual argument in favor of divergent points of view. By confronting her
inner concerns … events and interactions that make her uncomfortable, unbalanced and conflicted, she offers
both hope and reflection. The artist is a storyteller. She alters her narration to present both a halting and
tender view. Houses tumble… chairs levitate… and floating dresses become metaphors for feminist ideals
The artist has let go of the abstractions in her past work and instead embraces a new structure with
imagery that evokes an alternative position for how to navigate the world. Her work has evolved on a
more subconscious level…resembling a jigsaw puzzle that reveals itself when all of the pieces are joined.
The medium of choice in this show is a mix of acrylic paint, charcoal and rough-edged paper pasted
to various images on canvas. The technique permits the artist to move the paper around and try different
placements before the final position manifests itself within the canvas.
This ability to move and combine elements of drawing, collage, and painting early in the composition
reveals new possibilities that provide her art with freedom and strength. The paintings are quickly executed
with strong gesture-driven marks, layered lines and various thicknesses of paint revealing subtle undercoats
of color. The artist has performed her research, discovering imagery in family photo albums, poetry,
construction sites and advertising posters on subway rides to her studio in Brooklyn. The artist works fast,
but the research for her work has to marinate and percolate for a while before her pieces emerge as a whole.
That takes time.
While questions of color will never be settled while viewing this artist’s paintings, color emerges
with subtle relevancy. She deploys shades of grey, green, and pink to deliver impactful emotional punches.
It is no surprise that disarming images of cutting scissors, and marching feet that look like axes evoke memories
of Washington D.C. protest marches and Nasty Women exhibitions.
It has been said that what humans most desire from art is insight. The heart-felt inquiry chronicled in
Off/Balance reminds us not to settle for less.