Art Palm Beach 2023
Acrylic on panel
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Grassy beach landscapes, southern savannahs, sun-kissed coastlines of shells spit out by the sea.
Chunky jewellery, seaside gardens, loud colours, loud parties, confrontational teeth … The
paintings Melanie Janisse-Barlow is showing at Art Palm Beach — the international
contemporary and modern art fair of the Americas — are a conscious collision of images giving homage to the
With a grandmother who lived for periods of time in Florida, Janisse-Barlow says the paintings
are full of memories of trips to the American south — strange, pregnant memories, both
expectant and hyperreal. With “Ace of Hearts”, Janisse-Barlow revisits the shell-craft art her
grandmother created using Florida’s omnipresent seashells, while also revisiting a found folk art
theme she touched on in the titular painting from her Shell Games series. Canvases like
“Manifest”, “Refuge”, and “The Shedding” are lush, verdant garden scenes in extremis, where
the deep grove greens trend towards the cavernous while the pastels and neons of the foliage leap
towards the viewer, an attack of fronds and blossoms.
Moving from the folk art of shell crafts to the contemporary body art fashion of teeth jewellery and eye ball rings
may seem like a disjointed contextual leap, but there is a common, almost nightmarish thread in
their shared elemental basis in calcium. Janisse-Barlow was literally looking online at various
options for tooth art as well as endless additions to her vintage ring collection, and was struck by the overcrowded experience of the advertising. “They
were fleshy, odd, and in your face,” she said of the images that inform paintings like “Baby,”
“Queen of Hearts,” and "Watching," where adorned grills and bee-stung lips and acrylic nails seem to fit right in with the ripe Floridian landscape.
Art Palm Beach runs at the Palm Beach Convention Center in Palm Beach, Florida, Jan. 25-29,