Genesis Belanger’s work is characterized by a surrogacy of the body, as objects, finely sculpted and tinted in fondant hues, take on human features. Everyday objects are made uncomfortably familiar as they begin to resemble us. The effect of Belanger’s work is uncanny, as it tows the line between comfort and disquiet, the beautiful and the strange. Recalling the complex symbolic constructions of 17th century Dutch vanitas paintings, a sculptural still life by Belanger presents a seemingly mundane array—furniture, fruit, flowers—loaded with signs and symbols.
Belanger has crafted a dressing table with attendant accoutrements, a twisted take on items for grooming and consuming. A lipstick with a tongue for a crayon, prescription bottles, and pills scattered throughout paint the portrait of what could be understood as a vain and volatile, even hysterical subject—a critique of this female stereotype. Though the figure is physically absent from Belanger’s sculpture, a painting by Smith hanging just above, fills in. Here is a spangled dressing room mirror with Smith’s ubiquitous broom in its reflection. The broom appears in the hybrid role of petulant Hollywood star at her vanity and a Medusa with a coif of slithering snakes to cement the sense of mounting hysteria. Through myth and melodrama, Belanger and Smith tackle here—and throughout—enduring female archetypes.
The exhibition relies on a carefully intentioned interrelation of elements; Something in a tablescape by Belanger might appear in a painting by Smith or vice versa, never as a parroting of each other but as a riff upon which meanings compound. Like this, the eye travels between a series of fluid mises-en-scène, brimming with the pathos of a movie set and the unsettling feeling of having stumbled into an intimate space where something has just transpired, or something soon will. Such is the sense of anticipation, humor, and dread here, as though one were visiting A Strange Relative.
Photo by Dario Lasagni
Courtesy of the artists and Perrotin.