Figure in a Landscape is a painting by Francis Bacon that interprets a photograph of his lover, Eric Hall, dozing on a seat in Hyde Park, London. The artist depicts a disfigured, abstracted, partly over-painted man, lying across a park bench. With a blue sky and flowers drained of color in a murky, somber landscape, it seems, forebodingly, to be at once both day and night. Painted during World War 2, the work’s banal title belies the currents of violence churning within the frame. As a Tate gallery label puts it: the painting is a combination of aggression and everyday mundane reality.
Figure in a Landscape at Foxy Production comprises works by Carlos Almaraz, Mamma Andersson, Cynthia Daignault, Hamishi Farah, Justin Fitzpatrick, and Em Rooney that capture the moment we find ourselves in, where violence is inherent in the everyday.
Carlos Almaraz’s Stigmata Over the City, like many of the artist’s works, pictures Los Angeles as both character and cityscape. His placement of the mystical image of a bleeding palm above the city reflects the complexity of his feelings toward Los Angeles, belief, and himself–many of his paintings have been described as disguised selfportraits.
Mamma Andersson’s fictive, mysterious, and unnerving painted world is distilled in Death Mask where she pictures an odd hybrid bird, a parakeet with the feathers of a bird of prey. This caged anomalous animal addresses the viewer with longing; its sad, dark eyes seem to yearn for connection and liberation.
In Cynthia Daignault’s twin paintings of the tombstones of a husband and wife, figure and landscape are literally united. Their headstones are gendered signs that point to the lives that the interred had lived. Daignault often paints in series, her paintings acting like film frames that together here project a meditation on the finite nature of life and how it is symbolized.
Hamishi Farah paints a white boy in a field of golden grass, a large floppy hat casting his face in shadow. The work’s swaying brushstrokes and soft focus give the bucolic scene a disorienting feel. His painting points to another painting – Dana Schutz’s Open Casket – for the boy Farah pictures is her son. Farah confronts the exploitation of black trauma and how, on a moral level, representation can fail.
Using text and an illustrative style reminiscent of by-gone instructional posters, Justin Fitzpatrick’s painting is an allegory about revelation and connection. With the opening of a suture, the skin is pulled back theatrically to reveal cigarettes, the over-determined signifiers of sensuality. The body is a site for a dream-like, spaces-within-spaces drama of desire and intimacy.
Em Rooney’s intricate wall-based book sculptures refer to the photographs that they also frame: masked revelers parade in the Nova Scotian landscape; an intimate, lost portrait is found in the leaves of Georges Bataille’s Visions of Excess; and a child reads from The Illiad with some of the text – about camps and death – superimposed. Rooney poetically and variously figures current tensions around violence, whether it be the state separating children from their families, or in the way queer bodies negotiate the world.