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Daydreams of Spirits Half-Formed: Peter Orpheim at The Hole

Updated: 3 days ago

‘Thinking of You’

How is a sun nymph born? From what is it made? What secret formula of ingredients summons forth its wobbly essence? These & other confectionary quandaries lurk beneath the surface of Peter Orphiem’s show at The Hole: a scrumptious, sunshine-flavored healthy helping of whimsy if ever there was one.


These half-formed beings glance at us through the hazy veil of their chrysalises — cozy cocoons in which they bubble forth as blobby little would-be spirits. Their transformation is caught midway, their natures yet to be determined — shall they be good? Shall they be evil? Something tells me they’ll be a little bit of both, as Nature & her spirits are resistant to easy moral categories. Many seem to grin mischievously as their bodies warp & mold around them, impish caterpillars slowly growing their butterfly wings. Be careful, when you visit, not to wake them from their wide-eyed slumber, heaven knows they need their beauty rest!


And what have we here? Another room in the gallery reveals ceiling-high woven sock flowers from which the little creatures peek out on the floor, here rendered in polymer clay & revealing their true size (they could fit in your palm — the paintings are enormous & were based on the clay figures, an ingenious artistic process that makes them twice-removed from the cluttered notion of the “real world”). Aha: from the roots of pretend flowers are these tiny warmth genies formed. Tracks. They grin from their socky flower roots as if on the threshold of a fairy house. Come inside!, they seem to holler, Have a cup of tea! Meet the missus! Ah, but this is only a daydream they have in mind for us, we, their voyeuristic visitors. They’ll invite us in in due course, & tea we shall have. Though for now we may merely allow their hazy formations to remind us of what it was like to see the world in the sparkling colors of youth: tender, blushing, & volatile.


This is art of my favorite variety: the flavor was tea & tarts & candy hearts, with an afterglow of a sunlit soapy bubble bath, fragrant, bubbly, & luminous. Bon apetit!


—The Art Fart



'Cocoon' is on view at The Hole April 18—May 26, 2024. All images courtesy of The Hole.


Image captions:

  1. Meadow of My Heart, 2024, oil on canvas, 54 x 72 inches, 137 x 183 cm.

  2. Protector of Your Heart, 2024, oil on canvas, 65 x 55 inches, 165 x 140 cm.

  3. Holding The Key, 2024, oil on canvas, 65 x 55 inches, 165 x 138 cm.

  4. All is All, 2024, oil on canvas, 65 x 55 inches, 165 x 140 cm.

  5. Holding You, 2024, oil on canvas, 40 x 44 inches, 102 x 112 cm.

  6. Hello You, 2024, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 inches, 107 x 107 cm.

  7. Falling, In Love, With You, 2024, oil on canvas, 48 x 84 inches, 122 x 213 cm.

  8. Morning Flower, 2024, oil on canvas, 75 x 75 inches, 191 x 191 cm.

  9. Standing In The Sun, I Feel Your Arms Around Me, 2024, oil on canvas, 75 x 75 inches, 191 x 191 cm.

  10. Jacob, 2024, oil on canvas, 5 x 5 inches, 13 x 13 cm.

  11. Chris, 2024, oil on canvas, 32 x 30 inches, 81 x 76 cm.

  12. The Children of the Flower is Your Heart, 2024, oil on canvas, 54 x 72 inches, 137 x 183 cm.

  13. You Will Try Again One Day, 2024, oil on canvas, 48 x 96 inches, 122 x 244 cm.

  14. Neal, 2024, oil on canvas, 5 x 5 inches, 13 x 13 cm

  15. (& all remaining images): Installation views

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