Why Artist Danielle Orchard’s Female-Centric Works Are Causing a Stir
Her luscious canvases hover between abstraction and figuration, referencing tropes of Western art history
Danielle Orchard’s studio in Brooklyn is packed with languid women soaking in the bath or lounging après-tennis, painted larger than life on canvases that lean against the walls. They’re often nude or partially dressed, a drink in hand. “They’re familiar rituals that look very serene,” Orchard says, “but when you’re a woman who has experienced them, you know that there’s usually a lot going on.”
It’s a female paradise, where the subjects are completely absorbed in their intimate activities, unfazed by who might be looking on. “I don’t think I ever really questioned why I paint women until fairly recently,” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to women in art, but the tension for me lies between the beauty of that work and the sometimes problematic circumstances in which they were painted.”
The luscious canvases hover between abstraction and figuration, and are created by culling from the tropes of Western art history. There are hints of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, the Chicago Imagists, and even Northern Renaissance artists such as Rogier van der Weyden, Cranach the Elder, and Pontormo. “There’s an airlessness in a lot of the paintings that I love, a flattening of space,” says Orchard. “It’s as if the whole scene has been paused or a vacuum has sucked all the air out.”
Represented by the Lower East Side dealer Jack Hanley, who has a knack for spotting emerging talent, Orchard had her debut solo exhibition, “A Little Louder, Love,” at the gallery last winter. Her work caused a stir at the inaugural Felix Art Fair in Los Angeles, where the leisurely figures seemed right at home in the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel pool cabana that served as the gallery’s fair booth. This year she’s already had shows at Andrew Rafacz in Chicago and V1 in Copenhagen. “I’ve been painting nonstop,” she says. “I think I’ll head to Berlin for the summer—I want to see lots of art and reenergize.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2019 Summer issue under the headline “State of the Art.” Subscribe to the magazine.