Lobsters stacked in tiers. Jelly moulds. Juicy wedges of cantaloupe; wilting flowers; fluttering butterflies; and glassy-eyed fish. Based on their descriptions, one would be forgiven to assume what’s being described are 17th Century Dutch Still Lifes, and not the work of American artist Sabrina Bockler. However, Bockler readily tackles such challenging imagery in her work, which she presents as a critical re-evaluation of so-called women’s work. Her painstakingly detailed paintings of the domestic sphere seem altogether displaced, as if harkening from some parallel reality in which everything feels ever-so off-kilter. There are direct references to artists like Balthasar van der Ast or Rachel Ruysch, but Bockler elevates her work with stylishness and through pastiche, adding her own painterly flair and presenting viewers with various tableaux that seem plucked from David Lynch or some Surrealist version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Ultimately, we are presented with a sort of House of Mirrors effect, in which these painterly translations toy with our understanding of the real and the uncanny. Coined by Freud, the uncanny – or unheimlich, literally ‘un-homelike’ – refers to that which presents itself with a duality; its ability to lure us with a sense of comfort but repel us with its grotesque or disturbing nature. So we can safely assume that there is a darkness to the works, something unsettling about Bockler’s arrangements or colour-choices or compositions that suggest a savvy artist at play; someone understanding about human nature’s desire for abundance but the soul’s trepidatious nature of dreamlike imagery. Ultimately, there is a sort of illustrious, sensuous allure to her imagery and the skill in which she creates such delectable – if decadent – imagery for viewers to lose themselves within.
SABRINA BOCKLER (b. 1987) Bockler graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2011. Selected exhibitions include: Chronicle 5, Galerie Droste, Düsseldorf, Germany (2022); À La Carte, Tchotchke Gallery, New York (2022); Summer in the City, Hashimoto Contemporary, Los Angeles (2022); Vessel, Hashimoto Contemporary, Los Angeles (2022); Potluck (curated by Dasha Matsuura), Hashimoto Contemporary, Los Angeles (2022); Quiet Fire, Far by Wide, New York City (2021); Sabrina Bockler, The Clark Gallery, Boston (2021); Wünder Womxn: The Female Figurative, BEERS London, London (2021); By Yourself With Everyone, Good Mother Gallery, Los Angeles (2020) and; The Velvet Ropes, Patrick Parrish Gallery, New York City (2018). Fairs include: Holiday Market (curated by Andrew Salgado), Future Fair (online, 2021); Art Miami, Clark Gallery, Miami (2021) and; Hamptons Art Fair, Clark Gallery, Hamptons NY (2021). Bockler currently lives and works in New York.