|"Risk" 2011, 10.5" x16", oil on panel|
|"Fixation" 2010, 48x72, oil on linen|
|"Cryptology" 2010, 48x72, oil on canvas|
|"Fragment" 53x36, oil on linen, 2008|
|"Mosaic" 50x38, oil on linen, 2008|
Alyssa Monks is a realist painter obsessed with the human figure and face. Realists often tend to rely on specific effects in their work, some might even say gimmicks. The use of water is a popular one. The distortions of light that it creates lends itself well to the wow factor, so that figures swimming in pools especially seem in endless supply. But here the water, or in many cases a wet or fogged shower screen or other device, is used for more than mere showmanship. Water itself is loaded with psychological potential from the outright risk and fear of drowning to the symbolic power of rebirth and renewal. Nudity carries with it elements of vulnerability and sensuality that are often heightened by immersion in water or in the act of bathing. By ratcheting up the vulnerability, the artist avoids the pitfalls of mere eroticism, while her fluid use of paint heightens the suggestion of tactile experience. The paintings are large and this kind of grand presentation of what are essentially very personal images must have a slightly jarring but highly effective impact. All in all, these are an extraordinary series of paintings.
There is a whole lot more to look at on her website: alyssamonks.com
(I'd like to thank Matt Calcavecchia at bluecanvas.com for introducing me to her work)