Los Angeles

Ellen Phelan

Patricia Faure Gallery

To look and think about the dolls in Ellen Phelan’s 42 doll drawings, a 15-year project, is to submit in some way to their rule, which is really only to submit to one’s own narrative impulses. A refusal to regard the secret lives of our plastic and furry likenesses is to cast oneself as a no-fun doll boy or a disbelieving doll girl. Phelan presents us with a play-before-you-paint situation; indeed, in order to paint dolls, she had to spend a great deal of time moving them around, imagining the world from their points of view.

In Reconciliation, 1991, a green frog wearing tight red shorts puts his arm around a little boy outfitted in blue. The child’s head tilts toward the taller, paternal frog, whose open lips reveal a lurid pink tongue. The frog’s eyes are enormous and bulge out of its head like two eerie humps. A rowdy jock, the frog mugs in the portrait, yanking at his little pal. Can’t

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