A bouquet of roses, a calamine-colored hair scrunchie, rumpled coral sheets, an apple cheek. To figure painter Betsy Podlach, flushed pink is the color of love. Peeking from under layers of unkempt hair or dashed along the background as fuzzy carpet or patterned wallpaper, the artist’s signature color acts as a unifying thread throughout her sensual domestic vignettes.
“I love being alive,” says Betsy, who often paints herself into her lush portraits. “I believe that we are here, alive, to be ourselves, to gain wisdom, to give love, to not miss a moment of life if we can help it, that suffering is a given, but meaning is built into life.” Hushed yet dramatic, mysterious but emotionally naked, Betsy’s work walks a tightrope, exquisitely balanced between a spectrum of contradictory ideas. Even her two most obvious influences—Renaissance classicism and abstract expressionism—butt heads philosophically. Finding common ground between Titian’s exuberant color and Pollock’s “symphonic landscape abstractions,” Betsy relies on space, light, and form to carry her message of love.
“[Art] can communicate things that nothing else can,” says Betsy. “Love, truth, deep human experience, connection, association, juxtaposition, color, light, beauty—all without words. It shares something so human, so personal, and so universal.” Like a moment frozen in time, Betsy’s work taps into primal and enduring feelings of love. Her narrative paintings, opaque but intimate, play out in private rooms decorated in theatrical chintz and sumptuous fabrics.
Using a combination of oil and egg tempura, Betsy illuminates each scene from within, punctuating her figures with powerful blacks and warm, melting browns. The dark outlines act as a counterweight for the floating wash of light and color she applies to each scene.
Heavy with eroticism, Betsy’s work tempts viewers into the controversial role of voyeur. She observes the sensual body—male and female—through rose-colored lenses, demanding we luxuriate in the same soft curves as her painted lovers.
“[Art] can communicate things that nothing else can.” — Betsy Podlach
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All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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