Allegory of Water: the power of water in art

Though the eyes of the Los Angeles based artist Becky Kolsrud


Throughout the ages, water has been one of the most important topoi of classical paintings, from crashing waves bringing to existence Venus (Botticelli) to serene river scenes, sublime lilies in a pond (Monet), bathers romping naked in a lake (Brueghel and van Balen), and more modern painting focused on shimmering suburban swimming pools (David Hockney).


Becky Kolsrud’s surreal, female Bathers are portrayed in flourishing landscapes to represent the richness and importance of the natural elements re-enact the today 19th-century academic nude expression of beauty and grace.

“This is an imaginary world–it’s the stuff I never see in my everyday life."

Becky Kolsrud’s who use allegory is revealing how objects can hold not one, but many meanings, the painting symbolises a deeper moral or spiritual connotation. This new landscape, with women and lakes, serves as a more open backdrop. She paints women, but the figures can exist beyond their representation removed them from space and time.

Her "Goddesses", as we want to call them, have predominant red lips and red nails,look-at-viewer with more fire and confidence perhaps mirror of the modern woman. Would also the landscape represent the current status of the Earth’s waters? The subject of water is close to her personal life the city where she was born, and where she works, from a previous interview a Becky declares "I’ve always lived a long way from the water, and I grew up in a time of drought. I have a childhood memory of my parents’ argument over water, and how you shouldn’t do the dishes in running water. Everything here is sun-bleached, dry, and dusty, and I wanted to see something lusher in my studio.Vibrant colours, moisture, and fecundity various ways in which “woman” functions as a sign, symbol, and allegory. This is an imaginary world–it’s the stuff I never see in my everyday life."



Becky Kolsrud was born in 1984 in Los Angeles and lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She has had solo exhibitions at JTT, New York and Tif Sigfrids, Los Angeles. In 2013 she was the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann YoYoYo Grant. Public Collections include the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Her work was included in a recent group exhibition in London at Stephen Friedman Gallery.

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