Conditions Knot with Standing
Essay by Carol Schwarzman, 2012
Monique Luchetti’s new body of work, Conditions Knot with Standing, is deliciously conflicted. The artist is interested in the entire spectrum of means employed by human beings to define themselves: decoration, status, relationships, symbology, language, and even scientific research. Like much religious iconography – think of Christ bleeding from his crown of thorns, or Kali’s salaciously outthrust tongue – Luchetti’s knots and radiating forms stand for something not immediately evident. And then again, they question something… and ultimately they become decisive within a world of vagary and doubt, even though they don’t really look like anything we’ve seen before.
These assays with color, pattern and form she builds to order chaos into shape, to pin down the truth about ‘where we’re at’ -- why are they so beautiful and so brightly, happily colored? Not meant as consolation or comfort, her floor and wall sculptures echo the historical practice of distracting the masses either through pomp and circumstance, fingering of beads, or sartorial display. Her tragicomic sense of how objects function to compensate for feelings of loss, fear and disappointment sometimes verges on cruelty, as in the Darwin’s Finches series, where she mines the well-known image of the great evolutionist’s delicate yet lumpen bird specimens, and arrays them into radiants that evoke adoration, with each bird irrevocably limited by an unknowable force.
The bird’s-eye view of a whirlpool in both She Won’t Adhere to Anything and After Rodin, She Who Was The Helmet Maker’s Once Beautiful Wife begs comparison. The former, though locked in formation, buoyantly mixes it up and maintains appearances by clothing each bird in brightly-hued swimsuit fabric or paint; the latter sculpture, whose title references Rodin’s stark study of a woman’s naked, wizened body, presents its avian swimmers as more subdued, wrapped in gauzy black and town taupe hosiery, reminiscent of widows’ black or martini lunches.
Ask any bird owner, and they will tell you that as pets, birds offer a fascinating study of behavioral hierarchies and norms, with affection and loyalty coming in second to the overall pecking order and personal pride. The Satin Bowerbird collects blue objects to attract and lure in a mate; Ryan Gosling or Russell Crowe appear on the cover of GQ dressed to the nines. None of the fated qualities of everyday choice are lost on Luchetti, and one suspects she feels compelled to answer for her lack of faith in free will by tarting up the bad news a bit. Perhaps the real beauty in her work, then, is not only her honesty (in that she shows what she feels to be true) but also that, visually, the celebratory aspect wins out.