Very Much Alive

© Courtesy of Molly A. Greene and cadet capela
© Credits photo: Thomas Marroni

Molly A. Greene

October 14 — November 18, 2023

13 rue Béranger, 75003 Paris

For her third solo exhibition with the gallery, Molly Greene (b. 1986, Cornwall, Vermont) explores the fascinating concept of encounters with other forms of life. Her artistic expression revolves around the delicate interplay between the familiar and the mysterious in our lives, including our relationships to plants, animals and technology. She is particularly interested in how communication shapes intimacy and the enigmatic nature of these relationships. It is this dialogue that she wishes to establish in this exhibition, through her vibrant imaginative forms in pastel colors.
Inspired by the nature around her, and particularly by the hundred-year-old agave adjacent to her veranda, where exceptional flora and fauna live side by side, Greene wishes to provoke a gentle but direct encounter with the Other. Her new works, deliberately larger in scale, aspire to encourage a genuine questioning of nature and its mysteries, going beyond mere observation. 

Greene narrates:

There is an enormous century agave that lives just in front of my porch and this spring it shot up a 30’ tall stalk that forked out into dozens of branches freighted with buds. Starting with the lowest branches, the buds opened into bright yellow flowers with long antennae-like stamen that attracted bees, insects and birds.

After a week or so the flowers began oozing a thick sap that drew lizards, rats, possums and skunks to the base of the plant. I sat out on our porch eating breakfast each morning before going to my studio and watched the agave with all of its animal visitors. It had clearly become a site or a place, a transitory ecosystem, but it also felt very much like an individual being. The flower stalk grew and flowered at such a fast pace and on such a gigantic scale that it seemed to have a type of animacy that I don’t usually attribute to plants. It’s still standing next to my porch now, the flowers have turned into giant seed pods that look ready to fall soon. I read that century agaves live for decades and then use all of their stored energy for a single bloom and seed before dying. As I made these paintings I thought a lot about the agave, about latency and about last ditch efforts.

“The Wall”, a 1963 science fiction/philosophical novel by Austrian writer Marlene Haushofer also supports the artist’s narrative. In this novel, a middle-aged woman wakes up one morning at a hunting lodge to find herself separated from the rest of the human world by an invisible, impermeable wall. She shares this isolated space with a dog, a cat, and a cow. Throughout the creation of the paintings for “Very Much Alive », Molly Greene often revisited this story and the blooming agave plant. These elements served as points of reflection on interspecies care as a means of survival and the task of nurturing life without relying on a linear progress narrative.

Molly Greene is an American painter who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Before devoting herself to art, she spent ten years studying. In 2013, she received a Master of Environmental Science (MESc) degree from Yale University. In 2019, she completed a PhD in American Studies, also at Yale University. During her many years of study, she focused on a variety of topics such as gender and sexuality, post-humanism or animal studies, among others. She began exhibiting her work as an artist in 2018 in the United States.