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Louise Bonnet „Figure Holding an Orange“, 2024

Louise Bonnet

Figure Holding an Orange (2024)

Pallid as alabaster, bloated, and often contorted into awkward postures, the protagonist of Louise Bonnet’s paintings reprise characteristics of Baroque art only to reduce its ideals to absurdity. Cartoonishly exaggerated Rubenesque curves flesh out grotesque forms reminiscent of Hans Bellmer’s dolls. Bonnet’s paintings similarly exude an air of morbid melancholy. For her first edition for TEXTE ZUR KUNST, Bonnet has selected “Figure Holding an Orange,” which was included in her late 2023 solo show “30 Ghosts” at Gagosian in New York. In the work, the model holds the titular fruit, a classic vanitas motif; the color of her hosiery underscores the impression that she is hovering between life and death: while her upper body is radiant in its noble pallor, her pregnant-looking belly and bulging legs appear necrotic. Greenish-gray and turgid, they bring to mind the corpse of a drowning victim laid out on an autopsy table. Such unsettling compositions let Bonnet probe the intricacies of physicality and gender while deftly using humor and absurd details to accentuate her work’s critical tenor. Some of her figures rest their limbs on struts that help nude models hold uncomfortable poses for long periods of time without moving; the woman in this picture does so with nonchalant aplomb. But is she to be trusted? With her odd Pinocchio nose, a hallmark of Bonnet’s protagonists (this one is so long that it requires its own strut), she seems to intimate that she might well be giving us the runaround.