Danielle Orchard (b. 1985) is a Brooklyn-based artist exploring feminine corporeal realities and narrative forms through quiet, architectural compositions. On the occasion of our recent collaboration with Galerie magazine, ART FOR CHANGE is pleased to take a closer look at Danielle Orchard’s newest print, Earthly Demands.
|For her third collaboration with ART FOR CHANGE, Earthly Demands overflows with meaningful details emerging from the sparsity of the muted composition. Variegated washes in the artist's muted genre painting complement the textural variation that bleeds down the page and unveil the breadth of art historical references and inspirations that permeate her work.
Danielle Orchard, Earthly Demands, 2022
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Working in an analytical cubist style that connects her to modernist masters such as Picasso and Matisse, Orchard’s work engages contemporary concerns through classical visual languages, suspending the present in the past. The artist conjures depth and shadow through flat, overlapping forms that emerge and recede throughout the picture plane. From the dog that contours the subject’s shin, to the table and the shelf for the candle created by the wall that recedes into the window, the melange of flattened shapes push and pull against the central subject eking tension and mystery out of the evocative scene.
|In Earthly Demands, the environment is as much the subject as the sitter—a tempered cigarette, the ripped knee, wilted flowers and a dripping wax candle that illuminates her gaze in the window and the mirror. A nod to Georges de la Tour’s powerful Penitent Magdalene (1640), the dim, candlelit scene highlights loaded symbolism that follows the light across the canvas. Similarly, Orchard’s work builds intimacy and unveils emotional depth of our obscured subject’s environment; a tulip, a flower that symbolizes deep and pure love, an unsmoked, burning cigarette, false eyelashes in the bowl on the vanity, double mirrors from her desk and window—seeing only herself in the distance.
Georges de la Tour, Penitent Magdalene, 1640
Georges de La Tour, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Orchard’s work does not seek to answer questions, but rather invites the viewer to ask more. Her empathetic compositions create visual puzzles that push against and problematize how we represent female forms, and how much that representation has truly changed over the course of history. Deepening a sense of intimacy while maintaining voyeuristic distance, Earthly Demands presents an excellent example of the artist’s characteristic style amongst her newest works from this year.
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