Shotgun Review

Little Wild Things

By Erica C. Gomez January 22, 2013

The floodgates of teenage angst and desire have been opened at FM gallery in Oakland. In the exhibition Little Wild Things, Boston-based artist Molly Segal examines interactions between young women, capturing a familiar sense of youthful urgency. The application of watercolor to the plastic-based Yupo paper that Segal uses in her paintings brings the often messy and volatile experience of adolescence to life. A sense of misguided invincibility and wild abandon of youth is almost palpable in her exploration of the sexual, emotional, and psychological elements of relationships between young women and ruptures perceived restrictions of adulthood pleasantries and predictability.

Because Segal derives her paintings from personal experience, the untouched background suggests her recollection of the physical surrounding has been lost, allowing the interactions between women to prevail. The memory becomes paramount, second only to the physical exchange depicted. Images of bodies touching and limbs lost in loose, impassioned brushstrokes conjure a shared intimacy at a critical time of self-discovery. In an untitled drawing (2011), two bodies appear as one through an embrace, and as the muted paint drips downward, the lines that blur are more than just those of the figures. The indistinct forms in this work differ significantly from the confrontational savage sneers of a young woman and two hyenas in Poser (2011). The detail of the facial expressions, bodily posture, and introduction of a wild pack animal in Poser suggests humans exhibit predatory animal-like behaviors socially, suggesting a certain level of hypocrisy in our actions.

Molly Segal_Untitled_2011

Molly Segal. Untitled, 2011; watercolor on Yupo paper; 26 x 20 in. Courtesy of the Artist and FM, Oakland.

The sexual and emotional subtleties expressed in Little Wild Things are indeed apparent; however, while blurring physical boundaries, the works seem to stop short of the edges they’re fully capable of crossing. Much to my chagrin, a number of works I encountered during my initial research of the artist to be absent from the show. The young women in paintings such as The Show (2012) or White Girls Kissing(a series of four from 2012) are more confident and decisive in their physical interactions; their inclusion would have further elucidated the ideas of the sexual, psychological, and emotional experiences shared by the young women depicted in Segal’s work.

 

Little Wild Things is on view at FM, in Oakland, through February 1, 2013.

 

Erica Gomez resides in Oakland and is currently pursuing an MA in Visual and Critical Studies at California College of the Arts. She holds a BA from Metropolitan State University of Denver in Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

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