Artist Sarah Joncas uses a centuries-old narrative technique as the basis for her surrealist paintings that combine realistic portraiture with decorative motifs. The Toronto-based creative was inspired by the concept of “pathetic fallacy”—a literary term that attributes human traits and emotions to inanimate objects or animals. Through 21 portraits, she creates her own twist on this time-honored device. Her highly rendered depictions of women are punctuated with flattened elements of nature, and the paintings explore how the seemingly disparate elements become one—and what it means when they do.
Surrounding the ladies are the likes of abstracted butterflies, koi fish, tentacled creatures, foliage, and clouds. They mingle with the central figures—at times intimately intertwined—yet the women rarely acknowledge their presence. The result is beguiling, but it speaks to the overall goal of Joncas’ work. She invites you to “pause and perceive” the symbolism and deeper meaning present in each piece and to get lost in her painted worlds in the same way you would in a good book.
Joncas’ series has culminated in an aptly-titled show called Pathetic Fallacy that’s now at the Hashimoto Contemporary in New York City. The exhibition will be on view through Saturday, August 24, 2019.