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Nino Mier Gallery in Los Angeles is presenting “Vagabond,” an exhibition of new works by Louise Bonnet. Open through June 19, the artist has debuted a series of seven large-scale oil paintings looking at ideas of isolation one year after the onset of the pandemic, named for Agnès Varda’s 1985 film of the same name, which narrates the story of a carefree wanderer.
Exploring themes of melancholy, displacement, and nostalgia in her practice, here Bonnet’s signature exaggerated characters follow ideas from Varda’s film—which follows the protagonist Mona through a portrayal of her travels that uphold a sense of personal privacy—yielding a sequence of connected scenes expressing frustrations about societal expectations for women to always remain accommodating and available. In response to the conditions of social isolation surrounding the pandemic, these works on view acknowledge the alienation experienced by some, and the simultaneous feelings of mental restoration for others.
Captured within her own surrealist world, the artist has represented the themes in consideration through the settings in which her figures (often mostly composed of large hands and feet, and tiny or nonexistent heads) reside. Some have been painted within confined interior settings that give the viewer a sense of claustrophobic overwhelm, like the 84 x 144 inches Red interior with Seated Figure. Others, however, inhabit vast, outdoor spaces that suggest a sense of relief or possibility—seen in the pleasant hues of Landscape with Fig Leaves and the slightly more mysterious Bathers, which depicts several characters dipping into a dark lake.