Norah Lovell at Callan Contemporary

Norah Lovell, Master of Hounds III, 2013. Gouache on paper, mounted on clayboard. Courtesy the artist and Callan Contemporary, New Orleans.

Norah Lovell
Callan Contemporary
518 Julia Street
January 2–January 28, 2014

Norah Lovell’s works live in the space behind our eyelids, the flashes of imagery that skip the synapses of our brains while we dream. Like the compositions of Hieronymus Bosch, these microcosms are compact puzzles teeming with animals, plant life, mythological creatures, playing card symbols, and more. It’s overwhelming at first to attempt to unpack the many narratives that seem to be lurking within. Each work feels like a fairytale whirring through a blender. 

In her Untwinned Horn series, Lovell uses tenth-century riddle poems as springboards, offering a pictorial interpretation of the original poems, creating new riddles of their own. In the Master of Hounds series, multiple stories—such as a foxhunt and a journey through a labyrinth—are woven together through graphic tiles and baroque patterning. The tendrils of a creeping vine bisect the face of a grimacing hare before flowing into a brick wall. What Lovell accomplishes largely in fleshy pinks, stark black, and white is mesmerizing and confusing. It’s a trip you want to take and could take countless times with different results.

Norah Lovell, Untwinned Horn: Malum, 2013. Casein on panel. Courtesy the artist and Callan Contemporary, New Orleans.