A portrait of a naked woman drinking wine and smoking in a bathtub in treacherous mid-daylight, the weight of a single rose weighing down her cubist body and the balance of the composition. A look of indifferent despair in the simple contours of her face (3PM, oil on canvas, 129,5 x 96,5 cm). A painting with body and body history. The sensation of being a body. The weight of the male heavy weights of art history. All the bodies painted and the ones painted without empathy, or simple understanding. Being watched naked in the bathtub at 3 PM. The weight of the act of painting today, right now, and yet the painting feels light, ephemeral, almost in a state of flux.
The women Danielle Orchard portrays eat breakfast, take baths, play tennis, smoke cigarettes, occasionally arm wrestle, drink wine, have studio visits, masturbate on the couch, stare at the moon, hang out pool side and ponder existence in general. Many of them have an air of tristesse, lost in time and place. They are often naked and while nudity is historically associated with a sense of fragility, this is not the case in Orchard’s paintings. The women seem indifferent to being observed naked, as if it is the least of their concerns. While the mood of several of the tableaus, many composed with references to 20th century Western art, is one of intimate reflection, anxiety and a sense of longing, these women are not waiting to be rescued. They all feel empowered, doing by not doing, the dare of sheer existence.
The paintings in 3PM are amalgams that straddle the margins between the personal and the collective. Part private minutiae from artist’s life and memories, and part visual restaging of Western art history’s sweeping legacies, they present an imagined version of ordinary life in which the interior worlds and motivations of the characters are one with their material presence. A poetic blend of the mundane and the mysterious. They encompass our everyday drama, the tectonic shifts in existence that presents itself, uninvited and unwarranted, upon us. The tableaus are about body and being, and we recognize ourselves in Orchard’s women, gender notwithstanding.
Danielle Orchard, born 1985, lives and works in Brooklyn, USA. She holds an MFA in painting from Hunter College (2013), New York, USA. Recent solo exhibitions include A Little Louder, Love (2018) at Jack Hanley, New York, USA and Tennis Elbow (2017) at Journal Gallery, Brooklyn, USA. 3PM is Danielle Orchard’s first solo exhibition with V1 Gallery.