Review of the 2088 Eleanor Washington Retrospective at the Consortium Museum
If there's one thing Eleanor Washington is known for, it's the stand she'd taken in recent years against Death Culture. And it's this side of her that's on show in the Consortium Museum, starting last Friday (24 April 2088) and running for about one month, until the 23rd of May.
The show provides a delicately curated perspective on her growth as an artist, beginning at her seminal 2044 show at the Johnnason Olympia. The arc traced is cohesive, solid, easily graspable. It begins with the stunning but immature early orks, moves through her many phases of divergence (into color, into form, into metaphor), all of which inevitably converge on a more adult, richer version of those earliest pieces. The focus on poverty, on disaster, on despair, always returns more beautiful than before.
What's not present, neither in the retrospective nor, unsurprisingly, in any of the writings about it, is the complicating thread of Washington's struggle. What's not present is the fact of her rather controversial involvement in anti-Beacon protests. While this socialist stance hasn't appeared in her work, an informed eye can sense it always, just under the surface of the paint. One can read her struggle against the world around her in every divergence, and her surrender in every return-to-form. The thing she allows herself to say, more loudly since the Fuma disaster, is that she is not comfortable with Death culture. And this is all that most can hear.
This may of course be overstretching, but it is a thought worth considering, if only to introduce a rather-needed layer of emotional depth to her work. Regardless of one's stance, the show is of course quite beautiful, and highly recommended for any who've followed her career thus far.
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