De La Ronde’s Wisconsin Surrealism
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.