amalgamate

New England Museum of American Art, 2009

Drawing inspiration from parasitic fungi, Duennebier’s complex, organic images hang in the dark, Gothic space of the paintings like chandeliers of polyps, spores, and puss, glowing, growing, oozing, dripping. I am particularly fascinated by an untitled painting that depicts clusters of bloody red berries emanating, almost like fish roe, from what looks to be an explosion of white feathers.

“I think of the masses in my paintings as fruiting bodies, malignant growths that take on a lavish formation,” Duennebier writes. “They are not lying still but are very slowly expanding out across the terrain, usurping surrounding materials. These figures become garish amalgamations of color and texture.”

In her biomorphic imaginings, Nicole Duennebier participates in a contemporary aesthetic of the mutant that includes painters such as Inka Essenhigh, Sean Foley, and Tom Burckhardt. When seen from the perspective of posterity, I have a feeling the monstrous forms these artists create will be seen as symptomatic of a cancerous era, one in which the very organisms of life rebelled against human excesses and exploitations. To “amalgamate” is to unite, merge, coalesce. What Nicole Duennebier shows us is the entropic beauty of decadence coalescing.

Edgar Beem, New England Today, February 25, 2009