Artwork Title: Untitled - Artist Name: Honoré Sharrer


Honoré Sharrer

...Sharrer’s paintings became increasingly surreal as she aged, and the SCMA exhibit features a full range of often absurdly funny images: bent, dancing cutlery (“Two Dogs in a Still Life”); nude women in dreamlike locales, like one that includes Thomas Jefferson (“A Dream of Monticello”); and human figures juxtaposed with oversize animals such as a giant owl (“Don’t Murder Me, I’m Not Ready For Eternity”). [] One prevalent theme is Sharrer’s use of the female nude, as in Afternoon of the Satyr (1989) and Roman Landscape (1990). Her take on the female body is at once Classical and provocatively realistic. She paints pale and curvaceous female figures, reminiscent of Rubens, with the type of sturdy thighs that would send R. Crumb into a panic. Yet, her use of dimpled skin, provocative and awkward poses, and contrast with the other imagery in the scenes rips the figures away from a mythic or sexual context, shining a light instead on the way women are seen in society. Many of Sharrer’s paintings of this period are slyly funny—though Sharrer wasn’t going for the cheap laugh but rather a deeper satirical commentary. Brigham notes that Melissa Wolfe, the curator of American art at the Saint Louis Museum of Art and a co-curator of the exhibition, describes Sharrer as having a “slant view.” “We don’t want to diminish her by just seeing the jokes in her work,” says Brigham. “The slant view, the absurdity, is where Sharrer drives a wedge into power and into gender inequality. That’s what the force of the work is.” [] ...Sharrer’s paintings were realist with a surreal edge – figures were slightly out of proportion, often with sickly skin tones, surrounded by symbols that can be hard to decipher, like bent silverware, an electrical extension cord, oddly placed birds. She also had a strong feminist and socialist political perspective. Her nudes in paintings loosely based on Greek mythology are often confidently looking at the viewer, neither demure nor seductive (irrespective of the nefarious libido of Zeus), rather affecting a certain strength. [] ...Her art has inevitably drawn the label of magic realism, coined by Alfred H. Barr Jr., the Museum of Modern Art's first director, to describe a precise, realistic technique conveying dreamlike or surreal visions. And in the cleverly colored oils and drawings shown here, going back over four decades, very odd things occur. Lively nudes abound, chairs fly, spoons dance with dishes, birds perch on people. In short, Ms. Sharrer's work, cued by the colors and the meticulous draftsmanship of Northern Renaissance painting, is full of what she calls non sequiturs -- wild juxtapositions of plot and props meant to keep the viewer guessing. []
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