2.6 – 8.7 2023
Madeleine Bialke:Giants in the Dusk
02.06 – 08.07.2023
Huxley-Parlour are delighted to present Giants in the Dusk, the gallery’s second solo presentation by Madeleine Bialke. Comprising nine new large-scale paintings, the exhibition responds to the shifting cultural place of the natural, taking imaginative departure from Bialke’s recent time spent on the Treberfydd estate in rural Wales.
The dusk in the title of the exhibition alludes to the current crisis-fuelled moment: a potential sundown on globalisation, environmental uncertainty and other mechanisms of late capitalism. The gnarled and swollen trees that anchor the exhibition are, too, in the dusks of their lives; some of them entering the last juncture of their long life spans. Many of the trees depicted in the exhibition are Welsh Oaks, which have three three-hundred year phases in their life cycle. ‘Staghead’ depicts an elderly oak that is losing its crown, while ‘Deadheart’ describes a hollowed out oak, whose central core has rotted away.
The titular ‘giants’ not only refer to these grizzled and swollen arboreal bodies, but also suggests something even more ancient – as here Bialke uses the tree as a symbol to consider the place of mythology and storytelling within the landscape. ‘Spider’ depicts a Cedar of Lebanon that, removed from its dryer, warmer homelands has thrived in the dampened soil of Wales, subsequently mushrooming outwards and upwards into enormity. There is something of the physiognomic about Bialke’s Cedar colossus, a motif repeated across the entire suite of paintings. Many of the trees in the exhibition are rendered resolutely anthropomorphic: spindly arms, legs, and even abdominal muscles emerge from the undulating bark. Giants, as described by Hesiod, were creatures born from the droplets of blood as Ouranos was castrated by Cronus. Much like trees, they grew from the bloodstained earth as small seedlings and soaked up the sun, growing slowly as the seasons turned.
Madeleine Bialke’s ethereal landscapes emit a dreamlike quality, blanketed in luminescent colours that appear to glow beyond the canvas upon which they are painted. Focussing on the supple rounded forms of trees and flora, Bialke’s nature is anthropomorphised, tree limbs and softly curved plants appear analogous with the figures and animals littered sparsely amongst the picture plane. Within her practice, Bialke uses colour to generate and indicate emotion. Less interested in the accurate hues of a landscape, her colouring favours a silken palette of iridescent and hazy shades.
Bialke was born in 1991 in New York. In 2013, she received her BFA in Studio Art from the Plattsburgh State University of New York and gained an MFA in Painting at Boston University, Massachusetts, in 2016. She was the Artist-in-Residence at North Western Oklahoma State University in 2018 and was awarded the John Walker MFA Painting and Sculpture Award in 2016. She has had solo exhibitions internationally, mostly recently Death Motel, Newchild Gallery, Antwerp in 2022; Nine Lives, Steve Turner, Los Angeles in 2022; Long Summer, Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London in 2021; Mothers & Daughters, Visions West Contemporary, Denver in 2020. Her work is included in the collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody and Fundacion MEDIANOCHE0. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.