Alicia Mozqueira

Alicia Mozqueira's new body of work pushes the beauty of still life to both new heights and new depths, inflecting the genre with a distinctly contemporary sensibility.

In some senses, Alicia Mozqueira’s latest body of work speaks the language of still life: its visual vocabulary is full of darkness as a quality and as an object in itself, of flashes of intense, redolent colour, and of folds on folds of petals, living and/or dying forever in the painting. These units of painterly language don’t, however, add up to “conventional” whole works. There is something more celebratory and more subtle at play in these pieces, explained most neatly perhaps by the fact of Mozqueira’s working from photographs. 

These paintings have a sense of the hyperreal – of a being simulation that has become closer to the heartbeat of our reality than the “original” or natural object that it mimics. The alienating clarity of a high-resolution digital photograph, the uncanny tingling encounter with good AI or VR, or the emotional overload of seeing tropical fish well-lit in an aquarium could all be considered instances of this effect. Sometimes, the more lifelike something becomes, the more unknown to us it feels. 

Mozqueira’s blooms are spread across the surfaces of her pictures, running across the frame unbound by the expected (generic) devices of domesticity: vases, jugs, tables. Their colour is shocking, dramatic, seductive – as are their rounded forms, their florid layers, and their softly textured edges. In a catalogue essay accompanying Mozqueira’s exhibition, Benedicte McGowen writes with the language of density and texture: “Throughout Mozqueira’s paintings, pink buds darken and coagulate into a crimson that blooms then blushes, seeping into hues of shadowed purple that linger upon entry to an encroaching nightfall . . .” Even the symbolic associations of these flowers tend towards excess. We have roses for love or for lust, but also tulips, luxurious and inflationary. Yet, these forms are so crisp, so clear, and so much outside of time – and, of course, they’re out of themselves, painted after photographs rather than flowers as such.

Beauty is turned all the way up in these works. It is both vital and, in a sense, beyond belief. Could life really be like this? 

Alicia Mozqueira
12 May – 4 June 2022
Chalk Horse, Sydney

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