Rainen Knecht: Total Catastrophe Living

Rainen Knecht: Total Catastrophe Living

Melanie Flood Projects

November 25, 2022
Rainen Knecht
Total Catastrophe Living
November 19–December 17, 2022
Melanie Flood Projects
420 SW Washington St. #301
Portland, Oregon 97204
Hours: Friday–Saturday 12–5pm

T +1 503 862 7912

Portland, Oregon—Melanie Flood Projects presents Total Catastrophe Living, a show of all new large-scale paintings by Rainen Knecht opening November 19 and running through December 17, 2022. These new paintings reflect Knecht’s experience as a new mother in a rapidly dying, deeply destructive, and yet incredibly beautiful world. This mixture of dread and delight is reflected in the show’s title, which is a play on the title of a mindfulness epic called “Full Catastrophe Living” as well as Martha Stewart’s namesake “Living”. Not exactly a guide for better living, these paintings tap into the dark humor that provides a crutch to Knecht in her search for parenting prowess as well as the pathos that the inevitable, often constant “failures” inspire.  The figures depicted here hover between self portrait and abstracted, stylized forms. Knecht has said that they invoke her interest in epic figures such as giantesses and ogresses in numerous folk traditions as well as including pop cultural references such as Lowly Worm (of Richard Scarry book fame) or Fox Motocross gear in the details. Animals proliferate, sometimes seeming to almost literally breed within the painting, as the mice in Knecht’s Cherry Hell-RIdes her Chariot, 2022  appear to. The works begin, however, with the personal, often based on specific stories from the artist’s life or the world she inhabits. Intimate moments between mother and child, or in one case, motorcycles are transformed, in her inimitable style, often infusing the intimate with an energetic ferocity. 

In form and multi-paneled structure, the paintings here reference early Renaissance frescoes of Piero della Francesca and Filippo Lippi as well as multi-paneled Northern Renaissance altarpieces. The figures are in conversation with everyone from Fragonard to Art Spiegelman, existing between rendered beauty and Garbage Pail Kid putrescence. Figures have skin flapping behind them, in seemingly painless ribbons, they leak milk, simultaneously scratched and squeezed. These choices are decidedly body-horror and Knecht’s interest in fairy tales is bolstered by a deep interest in horror. Situated in a recent art historical context in conversation with works by Joan Brown, Elizabeth Murray or Dana Schutz, as well as poets and writers including Alice Notely, Diane di Prima and Rivka Galchen.

“I want to stimulate, to fluctuate, to put something together that feels like the truth as I know it,” says Knecht. “I want to filter my interest in art history, pop culture, and basically trash, into something more nuanced than pastiche, more funny than self serious, more weird than elegant.” Accompanying the exhibition is commissioned poetry by Morgan Ritter.

Rainen Knecht (b. 1982) holds a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her exhibition history includes solo and two-person exhibitions at Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland, Oregon; SITUATIONS, New York, New York; and CAPITAL, San Francisco, California, as well as recent group exhibitions at Shulamit Nazarian and Various Small Fires in Los Angeles, California; Fisher Parrish, Brooklyn, New York and Stems Gallery, Brussels, Belgium. In 2021 she was awarded the Hallie Ford Fellowship. She is based in Portland, Oregon.

Melanie Flood Projects, founded as a curatorial project by artist Melanie Flood in Brooklyn, NY in 2008, is currently located in downtown Portland, Oregon. 420 SW Washington St., #301 Portland, Oregon 97204. T 503 862 7912, info [​at​] melaniefloodprojects.com.

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Melanie Flood Projects
November 25, 2022

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