Chlorophylle, French artist Annabelle Arlie’s first solo exhibition in the United States, predominantly features the color green in 2- and 3-D works as a commercially fabricated, high-definition marker of nature, newness and, arguably, envy. Arlie’s crisp digital prints of “lifelike” large-scale images of nature and wildlife are aptly situated within the heavy wood trim, crisp white walls, and sunlit rooms of the historical house that serves as Jonathan Hopson Gallery’s new location. Covering the far wall of the gallery’s first room, the artist hung rainforest wallpaper, smooth in some places, buckled and wrinkled in others, upon which she cheekily hung a clothing iron. Her references to the wallpapers of domestic and digital environments serve as a literal and figurative backdrop for two wooden sculptures: a square quilting hoop and an adjustable hand-quilting frame. Arlie’s prints of chimpanzees and parrots take the place of fabric in the hoop and the frame, respectively, layering ideas of language, communication and technology with traditional and contemporary methods of production and image making.
In the back gallery room is a traditional quilting frame with a digital print of a vibrantly colored parrot and flower, hung hammock-style on its rails. A small shelf on a nearby wall holds a home office digital scanner with its lid open and a complete makeup set palette spread out on the scanner bed. The set’s plastic pigment compartments are open and on display, reminiscent of the nearby tropical bird, reveling in its range of “natural” colors. Arlie mimics the ways cosmetics, computer, printer, digital ink manufactures and others use images of nature to promote the supposed true-to-life quality of their products. The psychological underpinnings of the commercial promotional images and Arlie’s appropriation of them are dependent upon a hyper-real simulacrum of the natural world and desire for lived experience. The natural world may pale in comparison.