Ali Miller | Insatiable
April 27 - May 27, 2018
High Noon is proud to present Insatiable, Ali Miller’s first solo exhibition in New York. The artist’s work immerses the viewer in romanticized worlds often garnished with frivolity and excess. Within these spaces, therein lies depth in the meticulous details that inhabit the paintings and encourage a closer look. The juicy panels draw the eye in with a luscious view and color palette suited for a fantastical children's story; while attention is paid to ambiance, seductive details begin to come in and out of focus.
Full of opulence and extravagance, Miller’s work bears resemblance to a dessert almost too beautiful to indulge in, for fear that only one couldn’t possibly be enough. In addition to the lustrous environments inducing an almost physical hunger, these paintings express a series of anxieties surrounding the expectations we set for ourselves that can never truly be met, immediately transforming the worlds we see into interior narratives. The word ‘insatiable’ describes the idea of lacking the ability to be fulfilled, and thus being impossible to satisfy. There is no desire in a challenge met, but only a challenge sought. The work reflects upon the attempt and failure to reproduce an ideal moment in time. Miller has created a realm suspended somewhere between the present moment and our hazy expectations of what could be or could have been. As William Shakespeare famously said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
The exploration into expectations is not only the subject of her work, but informs the actual painting process itself. Miller always begins with a grand expectation in mind, which during the act of painting inadvertently develops into an obsessive process of trial and error. Similar to that of a director for a theater production, Miller often sets the stage for her work with Ferngully-esque lush greenery filled with bouquets of flora and crystal chandeliers, whilst illuminating the idealized space in the likes of a Maxfield Parrish painting. These idealized, pastiche-like environments often reference weddings, fairytales, pop music, Instagram, historical paintings, and architecture that the artist finds particularly romantic. As these elements collide, they begin to dictate the emotions of the subjects placed within them.
In TBD, a sunlit room with soaring high ceilings and ornate picture moulding appears to also be an artist’s studio. A backlit figure is silhouetted against a floor to ceiling window, an infant strapped to her back. The light encapsulating her illuminates the subject of her gaze, a canvas laying on a lush Oriental rug amongst other studies and works in progress propped up behind it. Emerging from the canvas, obscuring the immaculately sculpted space of the painting are abstract forms and gestures spiraling upwards, menacing and full of possibility. Intimacies depicts a twilight scene against a luxurious garden evoking the French Riviera and a neon South Beach style sunset. Once again, the image subtly constructs a complex anecdote of desire. Out in the garden a plein air easel sits absent of it’s artist while the allusion to a Flemish still life painting creates a meta-narrative. Ever so closely in the reflection of the water pitcher are seen a man and a woman making love; The greenish palette of the flesh unsettling and vaguely sinister, reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s The Kiss or the vampiric depiction of male partygoers in Dance of Life.
In more abstract works such as Virtual Reality or Willow, Miller invokes a feeling of familiarity intertwined with perpetual confusion, as in a dream upon waking. The painting conjures those moments in which one remembers something vividly, and just as quickly it fades from consciousness and is ultimately lost. In contrast to the rigorous process used to develop most of her work, the series of small works entitled No Expectations has allowed her to experiment in the art of letting go and shedding the conscious and unconscious rules we’ve been conditioned to set. A cathartic release of the tensions and pressures implemented in her meticulously executed worlds, Miller’s freedom with paint in this body of work proves the joy that is to be found in the unexpected. By experiencing both processes, she is able to integrate these elements into all of her work in a delicate balance of control and chaos.
Ali Miller was raised in Long Island, NY and received her BFA from Alfred University in 2008 and her MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Hoffberger School of Painting in 2012. Ali has exhibited in New York, Baltimore, Washington DC, Toronto, and Florence, Italy. She has attended residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Golden Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and Chautauqua Institution. She also received the Best in Show Prize at the Bethesda Painting Awards and her work can be found in private and public collections throughout the U.S. Ali is currently an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University.