Now on view in the Thinkspace project room is Luminescent, featuring new works by Molly Gruninger. Fascinated by the ways in which we adorn ourselves physically to convey identity or meaning, Gruninger creates hyper-realistically rendered oil paintings that play with the extremes of artificiality and posturing. Taking the cultural importance we place on appearances, and the reductive demands of this implicit idealization as a starting point for this series, Gruninger captures the extremes of superficiality in a series of hyperbolically stylized, humanoid effigies.
The artists’ rendering of her ambiguously human figures feels digital and ominously futuristic. Like gilded automatons or mannequins, they seem to suggest the disconcerting extremes of objectification. These uncanny ‘portraits’ of metallic and reflective icons confound the viewer’s expectations, forcing us to question the artifice and the rigidity of the subjects, not to mention seeking evidence of their abjured humanity. Much in the same way that we are expected to ascribe value or worth to a person through a perfunctory physical impression, Gruninger’s cold, beautiful, silvery shells resonate with uncomfortable, if not dangerous, indifference.