Von Lintel Gallery is pleased to present Henbane for Honey Bun, an exhibition of new photographs by Melanie Willhide and the artist’s second solo show with the gallery.
Henbane is a flowering nightshade known for its ability to induce dramatic hallucinations and has potentially lethal consequences if consumed in large amounts. Willhide’s digitally collaged photographs borrow the visual language of the hallucination to combine portraits of women with still life images of fake flowers.
Willhide’s female subjects are clearly made in the contemporary moment but incite memories of classic tropes, celebrating youth, beauty and desire: the playboy bunny, the fashionable waif and the pre-Raphaelite damsel. Despite these references, Willhide’s girls are different. They are uninterested in the viewer’s gaze, they have power and their images are un-tethered from fixed definitions.
In contrast, the fake flower is a fixed subject at the peak of its beauty. It has no birth, does not decay, nor does it die. The image of the flower has long been associated with the notion that both life and beauty are short-lived. Building on this historical notion, Willhide adopts the fake flower as a symbol of the nonsensical expectation of image culture.
Fake flowers and photographs can be absurd proxies for the real thing yet Willhide reconfigures them in such a way that their qualities become deeply psychological, symbolic and, perhaps, even supernatural.
Born in Connecticut in 1975, Willhide has an MFA in Photography from Yale University School of Art and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. She has exhibited throughout the United States for nearly two decades. Her work has been reviewed and featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Blind Spot, Art in America and Modern Painters
Willhide lives and works in Los Angeles.
Von Lintel Gallery presents No Light Unbroken – a new body of work from experimental photographer Klea McKenna.
McKenna’s photograms – unique photographs made without a camera in a direct light-to-paper process – are created mostly outdoors at night as she attempts to imprint her environment using light-sensitive materials; devising innovative ways for them to interact with the landscape. Place is a primary component in McKenna’s work, rooting the imagery in either a rich historical narrative or personal experience.
This exhibition, the artist’s first solo show with the gallery, is sparked by an early childhood lived off-the-grid in Hawaii.
Abstractly patterned rainstorms, vividly colored banana leaves and delicately haunting spider webs approach a near hyper realism as filtered through McKenna’s eye. If photography is a window, McKenna’s works are a portal: a visceral translation of an “animated, almost personified” perception of nature.
Even when working inside the darkroom, McKenna’s methods remain intuitive and unpredictable yielding imagery that glows from the kind of curiosity necessary to create it. Indeed, it is this thrill of discovery and patience in practice that keeps both McKenna and the viewer hungry for more.
McKenna was born in Freestone, CA in 1980 and received a BA from the University of California in Santa Cruz and an MFA from the California College of the Arts. McKenna has exhibited over the past decade across the United States, including at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, the Woodstock Center for Photography, the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and an upcoming exhibition at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY.
McKenna lives and works in San Francisco.