Our next Artist You Need To Know is Genieve Figgis.
Figgis (who was born in 1972) is an Irish artist who graduated in 2006 from the Gorey School of Art in Wexford (BFA) and earned a BA (hons) and an MFA (2012) from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland. Figgis employed social media as a means to kickstart her career, circumventing the frequent inaccessibility of gallery spaces. Her work is marked by an intensity of colour and that her ‘characters’ and ‘scenes’ often touch upon “ghoulish or macabre imagery.”
Flaunt Magazine has offered the following about her aesthetic: “Her unique brand of painting—which uses acrylics “slathered heavily” on canvas and often references works of the canon as viewed through a melted macabre filter—is at once classical and utterly contemporary.”
“Working in oil and acrylic and at small to mid – scale, Genieve Figgis produces paintings rich in color, texture, humor, and the macabre. Through her work, she explores and sends-up the idealization of luxury and leisure in paintings and photographs throughout art history. Like these historical works, her paintings feature sumptuous domestic interiors and stately country homes, idyllic natural settings, and protagonists dressed in finery and engaged in such activities as feasting, horseback riding, playing piano, or attending a party. Figgis’s body of work also includes her take on the tradition of portraiture and the odalisque. In her compositions, however, all is not well. Her figures appear either faceless or as foolishly grinning, ghoul-like creatures, whose loosely rendered forms seem vulnerable and insubstantial as they merge with their lushly painted, semi-abstract surroundings.” (from here)
Figgis’s first major exhibition in North America was at Harpers Books in East Hampton, New York in the summer of 2014. This coincided with the publishing of her first book titled Making Love With the Devil (through Richard Prince’s Tufton Gallery). She has collaborated on several other publications (unsurprising, considering the lively and mischievous narrative nature of much of Figgis’ work and her characters that both seem to tell – or offer the possibility of – stories) including Lydia Millet’s novella Lyrebird.
Since 2015, she has been represented by Almine Rech Gallery (with exhibitions in London, New York, Paris, Brussels and Shanghai, respectively). A more complete listing of her exhibitions and achievements can be seen here.
Figgis’ work has a playful, somewhat delightfully disrespectful attitude to some of the significant painters – and traditional subject matter – found in Western art history (she has been compared to a less dour James Ensor) : “I love looking at ideas of the past in Old Masters. They were made to tell you a story. Some of the portraits have the authority and theatricality… I enjoy looking at people from the past and how they portrayed themselves.” (from here)
“Painting is about pleasure. If it weren’t pleasurable, I wouldn’t do it. For a long time I’ve been pouring paint—the medium’s unpredictability is the addiction for me. Its ability to surprise and defy logic keeps me interested. It takes on a life of its own.” (from here)
Figgis often completes a work without preparatory sketches and in a very strict amount of time, enjoying and exploiting the fluidity of the medium in her brushstrokes and expressive marks. Her brushstrokes still retain a ‘wet’ quality, and her use of paint is innately connected to the physical nature of the medium.
You can see more of Genieve Figgis’ work here : her site links out to a number of excellent articles and interviews with Figgis, as well, where she articulates several more engaging ideas about her art and practice.
Her Instagram is here.