“There is the longing of bated breath, period stained underwear, silent seething beneath an embrace, and a dead mouse in a trap....”
Emma Gray HQ is delighted to present Touchy-Feely, an exhibition of new paintings by Nora Riggs. Her depicted scenes present a multi-faceted view of camaraderie and intimacy, reminding us of the mild indignities of youth and adulthood. While not autobiographical per se, her paintings emerge from an invented reality adjacent to our own. At one step remove, Riggs distills and alters it through colors, textures, shapes, and patterns that suggest aesthetics from another era without the pungent drifts of nostalgia.
That her ideas rise like froth before she sleeps offers insight into her paintings. They are condensed memory images, emblematic of a time and place, at once playful and densely psychological. Her deft use of paint supports this mood, articulating an individuated vision about fugitive memories. Which is another way to say that she devotes her craft, one so specific to her sensibilities, to the complexity (awkwardness, tenderness, oddness, funniness) of intimacy.
Toggling between still life and figuration, Riggs offers us two intertwining perspectives. No less psychologically suggestive, her still lifes offer what appear to be disparate objects—the stuff of domestic life: an empty heart container of chocolates coexists with remote controls and a toy bat, amongst other things; and a partially eaten burger sits alongside a trapped dead mouse, buttered toast, and more. They seem to not only imply that our psyches and close relationships contain equally vexing equivocations, but that there’s a bigger picture outside the frame.
However one might define it, it is permeated by the touchy-feely, an intimate state that reassures us, but is too close for comfort. Her paintings are all about the palpable tension and unspoken communications that reveal the hidden language of families, cliques, and marriages: There is the longing of bated breath, period stained underwear, silent seething beneath an embrace, and a dead mouse in a trap; but of course, there is the an accompanying tenderness and quotidian humor that comes along with it that puts one at ease.