Jill Mulleady “Decline & Glory” at Gladstone Gallery, Brussels
Gladstone Gallery is pleased to present “Decline & Glory”, an exhibition of new paintings by Jill Mulleady, the artist’s first with the gallery. Activating the gallery’s existing architecture, a Neoclassical-inspired late nineteenth-century Maison Bruxelloise, Mulleady stages a sequence of paintings en enfilade, with implied narratives threading between the works and the rooms of the installation. In one work, Gardens of the Blind, a chiaroscuro figure appears amidst the turbulent forces of a whirlwind and a burning landscape. The same figure is seen again in the yellow interior of 18 Rue Souveraine 1050, where she seems to have aged and is now illuminated by another fire – a psychic recurrence, or unextinguished memory. Still lifes of flowers mark the inexorable passage of time, with the same bouquet observed in different moments of decay (A Thought that Never Changes Remains a Stupid Lie). Here, a traditional motif allegorizes the seductive means by which power infiltrates our lives. Meanwhile, the Marquis de Sade sits in the solitary confinement of his prison cell, as if suspended in time between one sentence and another. Putting art historical influences in communication with fiction, Mulleady’s paintings invite the viewer to wander between shifting temporalities and the rooms and floors of the house where they are installed.
Painting on the surface of an antique mirror rescued from a nearby house just before it was demolished, Mulleady projects a phantasmatic scene upon the material fact of a found object. Responding to the existing neoclassical elements of Gladstone Gallery, the artist has updated the high ceiling on the ground level with a motif of rotting fruits. “Decline & Glory” haunts the gallery’s bourgeois maison, interweaving traces of historical time and expressions of psychic life, site-specific interventions and imagined realities, to stage a dynamic encounter between painterly vision and the context of its display. Another still life depicts an octopus tangled within the complexity of its own form – an image of a changeling intelligence, momentarily adapting itself to any space whatever. A turbulent seascape, shows a massive wave gathering force beneath a bloody sky. Like de Sade in his prison cell, the wave is suspended in time, pictured just before the breaking point: a painted surface is the outer face of a chaos without limits, change beyond measure, cresting to meet the eyes.
At Gladstone Gallery, Brussels
until 14 November 2020