Plum Cloutman’s Emergency

LIBERACE IN A MID CENTURY MODERN APARTMENT, 2021, Pastel, watercolor pencil and oil on Arches paper, 6 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

Review by Molly Cranston

For her debut exhibition in the US, currently on view at Hesse Flatow, Plum Cloutman paints a series of vignettes of characters in states of daily plight and delight. With many small and intentional brushstrokes, Cloutman’s buttery layers of paint create luscious interior spaces. Her paint application is like that of a gentle narrator, tending to her protagonists and their ambiguous storylines. Each piece shows a moment of reflective quiet or intimacy: one figure gazes at her bare chest in the mirror, another weeps over a burnt loaf of bread; books lay open, meat is caressed, friends are wrapped up in their coats. The stacked compositions and elements of fantasy lend the paintings a ‘literary quality’ and erotic comedy that undercuts potential realism of each scene. Small fires erupt around the bed. The depth of emotion in Cloutman’s comes not from the characters’ often obscured faces, but their expressive surroundings and the way their bodies exist and emote in their spaces. Objects throb with ambient texture, each glass of wine or pet puppy sends a message. The textiles she paints – floral curtains, robes, bed sheets  – feel alive; dresses and cloaks sparkle with secrets. Emergency is on view at Hesse Flatow until August 13th.

SALON DAY, 2021, Pastel, watercolor pencil and oil on Arches paper, 5 1/4 x 4 in.

LEAVING THE PARTY, 2021, Pastel, watercolor pencil and oil on Arches paper, 7 3/4 x 5 3/4 in.

At the Dressing Table, 2021, Pastel, watercolor pencil and oil on Arches paper7 7/8 x 6 1/4 in.

TWO PINTS, 2021, Pastel, watercolor pencil and oil on Arches paper ,7 5/8 x 6 in.