Mireille Mosler Ltd., w67th Street, NY NY
New Mothers, Don Doe’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, comprised of vibrant and classically composed new work on paper. Responding to popular culture and stylistically quoting fashion photography, WWII-era pinup girls, and painters such as Perugino, Hans Baldung Grien, Rubens, Raphael, and Gustave Moreau, Doe depicts the torrential conflict of parenthood as the ultimate act of creation.
The iconic image of a mother and her child is one of Christian symbolism, art historical reoccurrence, and current paparazzi fascination. Just as Raphael’s Madonna and child paintings mirrored the ethos of Renaissance culture, New Mothers bypasses strictly Christian connotations to investigate deeper human bonds and burdens. Doe’s previous series employed a cast of all female pirates to arrive at metaphors for personal voyage, wild sexuality, and inner tempests. In this series, he combines gouache, watercolor, ink, and pencil so that the landscape becomes tangled and earth-bound, with illogical, off-kilter space alluding to the threat of nature’s chaos amidst domestic security. Often the baby stands for a “redeeming accessory,” a proxy symbol of maturity, responsibility, and control.
Though the mothers appear confident and independent, they are contorted into erotic poses and tethered to their children who are inseparable attachments that further hinder mobility. Balancing one’s life and one’s baby is thus revealed as uncoordinated, parasitically co-dependent, primal, and challenging to notions of ideal motherly love. The depiction also balances between exploiting and empowering women, revering and debunking their power to create, which in turn parallels the artist’s own attempt to balance his art practice with fatherhood. What results is an unconventional series that both seduces and antagonizes the viewer.
Candice Maday Dir,.