Lanoue Fine Art
125 Newbury Street
March 7 through April 5
IT IS TEMPTING TO DESCRIBE LAURA SCHIFF BEAN AS "A PAINTER OF DRESSES." IN FACT, IT TAKES A CERTAIN POETIC CREATIVITY TO EXPRESS THE ARTISTS AND HER WORK OTHERWISE: "SHE IS A FIGURE AND PORTRAIT PAINTER - BUT WITHOUT BODIES, AND WITHOUT FACES." YET THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT BEAN IS.
“I don’t think of myself as ‘doing dresses’” the artist told me during a
visit to her Framingham, Mass. studio. “I think I do figures.” Bean’s garments are nontraditional portraits of women, focusing on draping, twirling, shaping clothing: simple, slightly worn, in shades of white, black and red. They are carved out of the environment like portraits, even the whites alive with myriad textures and colors. The titles of Bean’s paintings are emotionally descriptive without being literally so: “On the Edge of It All,” “Putting Herself Out There,” “Day of Resolve” and “Day of the Full Moon.” Presented is a pivotal moment in the life of the figure, and lack of context coupled with the invisibility of the body makes each painting all the more soulful, sensuous, ominous and something beyond pretty.
The garments purposefully lack embellishment and decoration, a move
made by Bean to emphasize the figure, the brushstrokes and the paint. The
viewer has no little detail in which to hide, and has no choice but to confront the painting full-on. Looming slightly larger-than-life, and nearly always frontfacing, the garments are confrontational. You are watching something important happen, perhaps even being addressed. Do you feel underdressed, overdressed? Nostalgic? Uncomfortable? Into what intimate moment have you stumbled that you are encountering a woman in
the dark wearing nothing but