LOS ANGELES — Gazing upon the work of Lydia Maria Pfeffer’s Lily of the Valley at Ochi Tasks, one feels as if they’ve stepped into one other world. A festive place, an area for play — assume Hieronymus Bosch sans the struggling and spiritual overtones. Right here there isn’t a ethical condemnation for the figures on show, no plea for redemption. As a substitute Pfeffer has created a world extra akin to Alice in Wonderland, Narnia, or The place the Wild Issues Are. One might simply think about the forged of part-human part-animal characters sprawled throughout her work coming to life solely in kids’s rooms after the lights are out and the adults are asleep.
Fertility, abundance, and the female function in creation are constant themes throughout the exhibition. In “Belle of the Fertility Spring Ball” (2021), Pfeffer presents an anthropomorphized frog determine who dons a bumblebee costume and a pink bunny crotch belt. Figures bob within the background, dancing on the similar spring ball. Says Pfeffer in a dialogue with artist Trulee Corridor, “this anthropomorphizing of animals has at all times been an obsession of mine … They’re these magical beings that join with all the things.”
In different work corresponding to “The Magic of Girls” and “Happiness” (each 2021), this aforementioned sense of connection is vibrantly on show. In “Happiness,” two lovers caress one another in a type of ecstasy that means a romantic relationship, whereas in “The Magic of Girls,” one thing extra akin to friendship is on show. Each vibrantly painted and very beneficiant with element, smaller creatures seem in sudden locations, whether or not or not it’s an insect-like man splayed throughout a vase in “Happiness” or the egg breasts of a birdlike determine in “The Magic of Girls.”
Whereas not explicitly sexual, Pfeffer’s work are definitely erotic, with their sensuality offered in a largely theatrical means. In “Arachne’s Spring” (2022), Pfeffer constructs the titular Arachne’s lingerie utilizing the fragile imagery of a spider’s internet. A commanding presence replete with eight eyes (six embedded in her cheeks) and a set of small-but-strong fangs, she shines in her emerald negligee as she seemingly directs the melting of the snow and the oncoming beginning of spring.
Like lots of the items, “Arachne’s Spring” is a narrative of vindication. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the human Arachne boasts that she will weave extra skillfully than the goddess Athena. Of their subsequent duel, Arachne weaves a tapestry of the misleading god’s abuse of people whereas Athena spins a material depicting the god’s rage at humanity’s hubris. When Athena sees what Arachne wove, she rips it up out of anger, both at its superior magnificence, the content material of its storyline, or each. Arachne, surprised, hangs herself and Athena spares her life however condemns her to dwell as a spider. In Pfeffer’s world, nonetheless, the story will get turned on its head; Arachne is free of captivity and what as soon as was her punishment — inhabiting the function of a spider — now turns into her crown.
Lydia Maria Pfeffer: Lily of the Valley is on view at Ochi Tasks (3301 West Washington Boulevard, Arlington Heights, Los Angeles) by means of April 30, 2022. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.