In Nicole Duennebier’s exhibition “Tender Burden,” at 13 Forest gallery in Arlington from May 20 to July 14, 2023, she finds inspiration in the “memorial flowers and the trinkets we leave behind to commemorate other people’s lives.”

The Malden artist paints sumptuous still-lifes of flowers and wreaths and moths and gray fish. She uses the term “Pronkstilleven,” a 17th century Dutch term for ostentatious, ornate still-lifes, in one of her titles—signaling the inspiration she’s been drawing from the Dutch “old masters.” And perhaps as well those paintings’ concerns with ravishing beauty as well as lessons about the transitoriness of life, the ever presence of death and decay.

Nicole Duennebier, "Tent Worm Bouquet," acrylic on panel.
Nicole Duennebier, “Tent Worm Bouquet,” acrylic on panel.

Duennebier seasons all the beauty with ominous undercurrents. Maybe there are contemporary environmental parables encoded here with Duennebier’s addition of tent caterpillars. A dazzling yellow speckled, blue mob of tent caterpillars swarm underneath a bouquet of pink and white blossoms covered with webs in “Tent Worm Bouquet” and cluster around flowers and blue sculptures in “Tent Worm with Blue Sculpture.” The insects can sometimes ravage forests by ravenously devouring of leaves and needles. In all their beauty is danger.


The Haunting Beauty Of Nicole Duennebier’s Flower Grotto Paintings

Caitlin and Nicole Duennebier’s Big Furry Dead Monster
Nicole Duennebier’s Sumptuous Paintings Evoke The Old Masters—If They Painted Oozing Piles Of Meat

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Categories: Art