Marcia Hillis: Astronauts and Bondgirls
July 1 - August 4
126 Front St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
Tues - Sat 5:30-11pm
- (718) 243-9005
Superfine is pleased to present Marcia Hillis’ “Astronauts and Bond Girls,” on view from July 1st through August 4th, 2019. In conjunction with the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo Flight—and landing on the moon—Hillis’ work will explore issues of gender, attraction, and mortality. More details below.
It sat in the corner of her studio for years. A dusty stack of vintage Life magazines. But one cover stood out, took her back to when heroes meant something. July 25, 1969: Neil Armstrong, resolved, suited up, one arm raised in confident goodbye as he steps to the launch pad of Apollo 11, leaving to conquer the unconquered, leaving for the moon.
It captivated Marcia Hillis, like it did an entire generation, pure hope and utter fearlessness in the face of the unknown. Tugging on childhood memories, inspired by that cover, she drafted charcoal test sketches exploring the astronaut’s mythical intrigue—then she quietly filed away the hope and fearlessness.
Flash forward. The power of juxtaposition. When images collide a new relationship reveals itself, often surprising and delightful. It was that way when Ursula stood next to Neil. Ursula Andress, Swiss-born sex symbol and the first woman to play a so-called “Bond Girl,” rising from the warm Caribbean sea in Dr. No to greet James Bond, waterfall of blond tresses, white bikini, diving knife on her hip, a large conch shell in her hand.
Marcia responded to the dynamic tension between Ursula and Neil, what they symbolized. The vastness of the sea. The vastness of space. A fictional heroine. A real hero. United by the power of iconography and the hopes and fears we project onto the idealized figures who give our lives meaning.
And so it began. Marcia’s current painting series based on this sly confrontation. “Astronauts and Bond Girls” speaks to the contrasting power and fragility of male/female interaction. It speaks to an era, when we turned to pop culture, recreational drugs and civil disobedience to open new doors, and when we singularly pursued outer space, that last great frontier. For the United States it was a peak moment, a display of strength and aspirations realized thanks to Armstrong’s unprecedented leap for mankind.
Is it a moment worth holding in our minds? What perspectives do the masculine and feminine ideals bring to it? And what of transporting these U.S.-centric icons to Cuba? When Marcia first visited artist studios there she noticed themes of transportation, fantasy and escape. Funny, she was exploring similar ideas in Brooklyn.
These paintings are flat and unsculpted. Graphic in nature so as to better contrast with their deep humanity. While the Bond Girls gaze, the astronauts remain cloaked by helmet visors that reflect (literally) their celestial missions. And though the female is exposed and the male hidden by his space suit, each acknowledges our predicament as human beings drifting inevitably toward our final voyages. Ultimately these paintings are bright and joyful, stripped of any extraneous cues, bestowing the viewer with plenty of space to construct his or her deeply personal narrative.
To conquering the unconquered.