Caroline Mecklin: Crazy for the Figure
AV Framing Gallery
Throughout history, women have been portrayed as demure, seductive, pious, enigmatic, submissive and, on occasion, as goddesses — but rarely as mere humans comfortable in their own skin. Indianapolis artist Caroline Mecklin’s solo show, Crazy for the Figure, on view at AV Framing Gallery in Fountain Square, is a celebration of Mecklin’s painterly exuberance: offering a generous view of (mostly) women striking poses that are, almost without exception, confident ones. That women should be depicted this way — confident in their nudity rather than self-conscious, almost unaware of the viewer — is testament to Mecklin’s gift as an artist.
Mecklin is unique in this aspect: Combined with her ability as a painter and draftsperson who knows how to capture the essence of movement and form through stroke of brush or stick of charcoal, her perspective on women offers a departure that is long overdue in the realm of artmaking in general.
This isn’t to say that Mecklin’s women don’t have goddess qualities — at times they do — but they are not idolized; rather, they are celebrated for their imperfect beauty. These are ample women whose curves — a generous hip, a robust posterior, a shock of dreadlocks piled high — give them vitality rather than weight.
Mecklin’s paintings are not overworked. Rather, they’re quick and fluid, bridging the distance between haste and confidence. The triptych “The Three Graces” is deceptively straightforward: In quick strokes of purple, green and gold, the three women flow from one canvas to the next — the arm of the first carries over onto the canvas of the second — as if Mecklin moved these images from inside her head onto the canvases in a lightning flash of inspiration. Negative space is a positive, the women emerging from the white as if in stark relief. On the other hand, paintings such as “The Red Curtain” and “Dancer in Yellow” ground the figure in an abstracted backdrop of expressionistic color.
For years Mecklin has almost single-mindedly sustained her focus as an artist, moving on a trajectory that has brought her to this accomplished place. Her figures have never been so confident, so fluid. Her use of color has also evolved, although she retains a palette that seems unique to her, red and green being predominant. But now she dances into other realms with her more expressionistic use of paint. Her figures, too, seem more fully realized, as if she is in near-perfect step with her muse.
Crazy for the Figure, selected paintings by Caroline Mecklin, is on view through Feb. 29 at AV Framing Gallery, 1139 Shelby St., Fountain Square. Call 317-356-3776 or visit www.avframinggallery.com for information.