Naudline Pierre’s Epic Paintings of Alternate Universes Explore the Concept of Power
Following her first solo museum exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art, on view now, is a solo show at James Cohan gallery in New York, opening in May
There is something very comforting about Naudline Pierre’s epic paintings, which serve as mesmerizing portals to a fantastical alternate universe. Across vast horizonless landscapes, jewel-toned celestial beings float, fight, and embrace, all connected through a vibrant use of color, texture, and warm light. They are there to guide and serve the radiant protagonist, who can be considered an alter ego of the artist, helping her to gain strength and power. “I am constantly revisiting themes surrounding protection and affection, but at the moment, I am enjoying digging into the concept of power,” says the artist, whose star has been firmly on the rise since she completed her MFA at the New York Academy of Art in 2017.
Her first solo museum exhibition, at the Dallas Museum of Art, is currently on view and will be followed by a show at James Cohan gallery in New York, opening in May. “Raw moments of strength, passion, rage, sorrow, and joy will be woven throughout this body of work,” she says.
"Those precious moments of communication allow me to process my own existence."Naudline Pierre
The daughter of a Haitian pastor, Pierre grew up surrounded by religious iconography and ecclesiastical stories, elements of which inform her large figurative paintings. “The protagonist in my work lives in this other world, and we meet at the surface of the canvas,” Pierre says. “We share some similarities, but she has her own will. In making these paintings, I get to communicate with her and the other inhabitants. Those precious moments of communication allow me to process my own existence.”
Working intuitively, Pierre begins with a feeling, sometimes scribbled as notes, that she translates into a thumbnail sketch that later becomes the larger composition. “As I’m making the work, I spend a lot of time sitting and staring at the painting surface, trying to coax an image out of the stillness,” she says. “Then there is a moment where it’s like a lightbulb turns on and I’ve found a way out of the painting.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2022 Spring Issue under the headline “Face Forward.” Subscribe to the magazine.