New York

Elvira Bach

Charles Cowles Gallery

Elvira Bach’s painterliness seems perfect for her iconography, which is summarized in her assertion, “Women aren’t like snakes, they are snakes.” She blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, creating a mythologically effective female figure. She shows woman as lover and as mother. A triumphant young female figure often raises her infant over her head, as in All You Need Is Love, 1986. Alone or in the hierarchy of relationships, women are presented as powerful figures.

Whether male or female, the figures are naked, suggesting their emancipation, which includes sexual “naturalness.” They are often in an indefinite but “earthy” setting. A snake sometimes erotically encompasses a figure. Although the vitality of the painted strokes makes the figures seem inherently vital, many stand rigidly as the snake surrounds them. It is the archaic hieratic pose of an initiate, suggesting Bach’s

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