When I walk into a Chelsea gallery in New York, I generally expect a big white box.
At Galerie Lelong, I walked into something like a fairy bower. Arcs of wax-dipped white flowers made romantic arches, maybe even for a bride-to-be. My breath caught. Farther inside, the flowers turned blue-black, roiling on the floor like ocean waves. This is the new exhibition by Petah Coyne, Vermilion Fog, the result of many months of work in her New Jersey studio. I recognized the continuation of a series that began with her 11-foot sculpture now on view here at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Oh, but I wanted to touch it. I wanted to break off and eat parts of the “white confections” of her Unforgiven series. Run my hands over the black velvet mounds in the dark sculptures, her Dante’s Inferno series. I noticed new details from every angle. Artificial birds readied themselves for flight as they shook off carpets of flowers. A bobcat-like creature snarled from a tangle of flowers. And that what I love most about Petah’s work: darkness and danger lurking in the sweetness.