Beth Katleman, The Enchanted Hunters: Wood Nymph, USA, 2015
Channeling Nabokov’s Lolita, Beth Katleman has created The Enchanted Hunters: Wood Nymph, an opulent mirror that immerses the viewer in a private universe, with moments from the novel brought forth in 1950’s Americana iconography.
The title refers to the enigmatic murals from the hotel where Humbert Humbert first sleeps with Lolita. With references to the novel, fairy tales, mythology, and popular culture, the narratives blur the lines between hunter and prey, innocence and guilt. Lavishly detailed porcelain trinkets and icons from popular culture are stand-ins for characters in the novel. A siren in tennis clothes battles a swarm of bees, an enchanted hunter (Curly from the Three Stooges) chances upon sleeping beauty in the forest, and a plush lamb cavorts in a forest of magic mushrooms, adding to the hallucinogenic reverie.
The delicate handmade roses and the Chinese Chippendale-style pagodas with tiny porcelain bells lure the viewer in, only to reveal a more subversive agenda. Katleman blurs the boundaries between high and low art, quoting from literature and traditional design and adding a contemporary narrative that is all her own. Another mirror, The Enchanted Hunters: Narcotic Dream, can be used as a companion piece to this one.
This is not the first time Katleman has drawn inspiration from literature. Her “Girls at War” series referenced Shakespeare, Greek mythology, and the American visionary painter and novelist Henry Darger. Lolita, one of Katleman’s perennial favorite novels, proves fertile ground for the artist’s signature mix of opulence, excess, and dark humor. This piece follows her first mirror, the critically acclaimed Hotel Mirana, 2014, based off of a different chapter of the novel.
63” H x 36” W x 5” D
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