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Saturday, July 5, 2014

De La Ronde’s Wisconsin Surrealism

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Fans of Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery” will be at home amidst the paintings of Deann De La Ronde—her recent ones. The Wisconsin artist, once known for placid landscapes and sentimental animals, has dramatically shifted her focus toward the surreal and—in some cases— the grotesque. A small collection of De La Ronde’s newer work can be seen at Landmarks Gallery, 231 N. 76th Street.

 

Some of the paintings at Landmarks suggest that De La Ronde has engaged with the subterranean “dark art” movement, whose nightmarish, unsettling, macabre images have deep roots in the imagination of Francisco Goya and Hieronymous Bosch. If so, she has entered that realm along an avenue far removed from the hard-edged, science fiction of H.R. Giger. The Wisconsin painter has a profound interest in the culture of the Plains Indians, whose spiritual and mundane artifacts often involved sacred birds and feathers. The honeyed colors of My Body of Birds (oil on birch panel) presents a benign impression with its outlined female nude, cradling a bird against her smooth shoulder and surrounded by a flock of avians.

 

Other paintings, however, suggest that the birds have less friendly intentions. In Majestic Noblesse (oil glaze on gesso) and The Entry (oil on canvas), great beaked birds, some of them under hooded garments, have gathered in sinister congress. With their lurid color scheme of plum and orange and farrago of weirdly anthropomorphic shapes, both paintings would have been apt illustrations for Serling’s macabre tales.