More Works: Babies from Heaven, People In Hell - 2007
Abaton Garage (Abaton Book Company)
Babies from Heaven, People in Hell
Paintings by Paula Gillen
July 8th – August 9th, 2007
In Babies from Heaven and People in Hell, Gillen revisits her creative roots, cultivating them without erasing all wild abandon. Her careful yet carefree delivery reads as a sort of outsider art from the inner sanctum.
People in Hell are, needless to say, engaged in a bevy of sins, none of them particularly original, but then that’s obviously the point. To err is human and in capturing her subjects non-judgmentally, an element of forgiveness is implied, vestiges, perhaps, of Gillen’s Catholic upbringing. The undertaking of such a dire topic with equal measures of humor and angst suggests the influence of German Expressionism, as does the murky application of paint, but Gillen’s field is leveled by repeat allusions to the popular graphics of commercial art, alongside references to timeless, priceless treasure.
With a Hell’s–eye view, Gillen reflects on the worldwide favorite pastime of Hollywood stargazing. The glitter-dusted twin orbs of Anna Nicole (which is which?) act as a stand-in for our humbled constellations. One heavenly body serves as well as the next, when wishing upon a star takes on new meaning. Politics are another hot dish on Gillen’s tray. A wide-eyed President George Bush II attempts to comfort a bawling babe amidst the underworld’s ferocious flames. Both would nodoubt prefer to be snuggling cozily on daddy’s lap.
In the eons-old debate over which came first—chicken or egg, George Bush or George Bush—Gillen’s cherubim spring into play. These blissful, bouncing newborns might at first appear to stand, rather, lie in opposition to their Hell-ridden counterparts, yet at second glance it becomes quite clear that each reflects a rebirth of the other, all striking milestones in a seemingly endless cycle.
Babies from Heaven emerge, through the usual portal, from a psychedelic primordial ooze, into an assortment of times and places: 14th-century Italy, 18th-century Japan, 20th-century Spain, 21st-century America, bringing with them the wisdom of the ages. How long, one can’t help but wonder, until this knowledge dissipates--minutes, hours, days, weeks, months? Within a year, two at most, it will certainly have vanished, or dwindled to all but naught, to be touched upon later, perhaps, on occasion. Paula Gillen has birthed such an occasion here and now.
-- Lauri Bortz - Abaton Garage - 2007