Catharine Clark Gallery presents Bell the Cat, a solo exhibition by Deborah Oropallo on view January 7 – February 18, 2017. As with her previous exhibition, Guise, Oropallo’s newest work investigates the legacies of gender and power in portraiture. Through compelling use of photomontage, Oropallo juxtaposes figures found in historical paintings with both images from costume catalogues and her own studio photography, layering these seemingly disparate sources into intricate compositions that explore portrayals of gender norms across visual culture.
Bell the Cat draws inspiration from fairy tales like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood as iconic texts that have shaped how we relate to “femininity” in our culture. Since the 2016 presidential election, however, the work has taken on another resonance as women’s rights and progressive causes have come increasingly under attack. Additional layers of paint and photomontage begin to distort the images beneath, gesturing to the contstant disruption of pop-ups and consumer advertisements. Oropallo’s aggressive interplay between media and images offers a startling proposition that in a new political era where misinformation can influence an election, cultural texts – however seemingly innocuous – are volatile. In conjunction with these unique mixed media works on canvas, Catharine Clark Gallery is pleased to debut Oropallo’s first video work, White as Snow, as a complement to her gallery presentation.