Dream-Like Paintings From Madeline Brice Waver Between Perception and Reality
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post ran in January 2023. We’re publishing this update in honor of our October 2023 exhibition, Aftereffects, which includes work from Madeline Brice.
Why do we confuse dreams with reality? Mounting evidence suggests everything we experience in the “real” world is simply a whirl of information occurring in our heads—much like a dream.
Diagnosed with a visual perception disorder that causes the world to appear “dreamlike and delusive,” multidisciplinary artist Madeline Brice explores the domino reaction between perception, narrative, and behavior with works that quiver under warped points of view. “My work explores how perception distorts your sense of self and can create an entirely new narrative separate from the actuality of things,” she writes in her artist statement.
Painting on aluminum or mylar, Madeline creates diffuse shapes with soft edges, often punctuated by undulating gridded structures. A tidy hair net and trustworthy tennis racket become limp and tractable, unsquared and unreliable as old cheese. The Missouri-based artist explains that her technique illustrates the “varying degrees of thought distortion and the cognitive dissonance that results […] dissonance is ambiguous and intangible, much like the subjects in my work.”
Rendered in mossy greens and construction orange—a highly visible color—Madeline’s work is both brazen and coy, approachable yet cryptic. Narrative threads remain loose, threatening to unravel or change direction altogether. Her work contains fragments of an unresolved story, like a 500-piece puzzle box with only 300 pieces inside. With patience, the outlines of a familiar image appear, but the larger significance is lost without the crucial missing pieces. Madeline’s work suggests that our attempts to fill these blank spaces result in wildly different outcomes, our good and bad behaviors a direct result of our thoughts—whether or not they’re based in truth. “These distortions cause a more reactionary impulse,” she says, referring to her visual disorder, “an unwavering struggle between myself and reality.”
Scroll through to view Madeline’s work, then head to our October 2023 exhibition, Aftereffects, to see her submission, “Crying Makes You Feel Better.”
“My work explores how perception distorts your sense of self and can create an entirely new narrative separate from the actuality of things.” — Madeline Brice
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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