Johanna Fateman’s review in The New Yorker of Paula Wilson’s Imago at Denny Dimin Gallery
A colorful six-foot-long moth—a painted mobile—hangs above the entrance to this New Mexico-based artist’s salon-style installation “Imago,” a title borrowed from two sources. In entomology, it refers to the mature phase of a winged insect’s development; in psychoanalysis, it’s a mode of relationship therapy. The works on view are hybrids as well, combining painting, printmaking, sculpture, collage, film, performance, and furniture design. Throughout, Wilson cultivates an inviting domestic atmosphere. A gracefully carved wooden floor lamp—one of several pieces made in collaboration with the artist’s partner, Mike Lagg—illuminates “Sunflower Night,” a dense, lushly nocturnal canvas. The meticulously detailed, doll-size sculpture “Microhouse” replicates a modernist live-work cottage, down to its clay pots, wind chimes, and sleeping loft. The highlight of the exhibition is the short film “Life Spiral,” starring the artist as an insect moving through its life cycle, from egg to imago, in brilliantly costumed, sun-flooded sequences. In less than five enthralling minutes, Wilson crystallizes her show’s many themes, underscoring that her everyday artistic existence is inextricable from the rhythms of the natural world.
— Johanna Fateman