Nancy Margolis Gallery is pleased to announce Drea Cofield’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, Lotus Eaters. The show will be on view September 13th through October 27th, 2018, with an opening reception on Thursday, September 13th from 6pm until 8pm.
Cofield’s new body of work—comprising oil paintings and ink drawings—pulls inspiration from literary sources, including the story of the Lotus Eaters from Homer’s Odyssey. In the epic poem, the hero Odysseus encounters a tribe of lotus-eaters as he is returning to Ithaka. The flowers and fruits overcame those who ate them with lethargy and a blissful forgetfulness. Cofield expanded on this ancient metaphor of forgetting cultural rules to depict what she calls “an amoral Eden,” where nude figures exist and interact with one another in a hedonistic, alternate reality. Instead of illustrating Homer’s story literally, Cofield developed a mythological voice of her own to describe her fictitious world and the characters who inhabit it.
Cofield’s oil paintings embody a Fauvist palette of bright, saturated colors. Rather than capturing the realities of the natural world, her palette of unexpected hues stirs emotional responses in the viewer and conjures visual drama in each composition. In Heat Blush, warm and cool tones work in harmony to convey lingering sunlight just before nightfall. Pronounced green shadows against golden bodies further accentuate the time of day. In the center of the painting, a red face with delicate, mask-like features peers out of the framework, intercepted by a dark blue torso in shadow. Sappho’s Apples utilizes a lighter palette of yellow-green, pink, and blue to create an otherworldly sensation, while also emphasizing the hedonistic qualities of this world. The glistening fruits are suggestive of the dewy freshness that follows a daytime rain shower.
The activities of Cofield’s nude figures are left ambiguous, but she portrays them frozen in action, evocative of rituals. The sculpted, toned bodies appear idealized and universal, or, to use Cofield’s word, “impossible.” Furthermore, the figures’ genders are not clear and at times appear hermaphroditic, which adds another layer of mystique to the compositions. Together with her striking color palette, notes of satire, and personal mythological language, Cofield’s Lotus Eaters brings new light and modern perspectives to an ancient metaphor.