The figures populating Genieve Figgis’s paintings emanate from some luminescent netherworld, suspended between life and death, or living life and death or life through death in a land of the willingly lost, enchanted and menacing by turns, where the cauldron of the Weird Sisters who prophesy to Macbeth is recast as the Jamesian Golden Bowl. The psycho-landscape evokes an Edwardian house party but the estate’s been abandoned for a century, everybody is dead but they never left the place. Candles still sparkle but give off no heat. Evening attire: The ladies wear exhorbitant parures; the gentlemen teeter in their silk top hats. And it all looks like great fun, the scenes rife with smiles and laughter, hijinks and assignations, pranks and drolleries. But in this miscarried Merchant-Ivory film the guests look rotten, or rotting, their beaming visages collapsing into skulls, their bodies liquescent or rather deliquescent, like overripe cadavers, yet illumined from within by eldritch light. I remember reading an article about Stanley Kubrick in the New York Times when The Shining originally came out. Kubrick made one comment that has always stayed with me: Aren’t ghost stories essentially optimistic, he asked? After all they reassure us that there is a life after death.
- David Rimanelli*
*an excerpt from his essay "Wonderful Party, Darling" (Fulton Ryder, 2014)
Genieve Figgis made her American debut at Harper's Books in East Hampton this summer. The show coincided with the publication of her first artist book, Making Love with the Devil. She lives and works outside Dublin, Ireland.
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