Cuturi Gallery is delighted to present From These Ruins, We Rise and Fall, a solo exhibition by local artist, Marla Bendini (b. 1986, Singapore). This show features a new collection of mixed media artworks, inviting the viewers to the gathering of spirits to find one another, to create and rediscover meaning, to project resolution and embrace support. Imagining herself and her companions as archetypes, through the act of modelling, painting, and storytelling – merging fantasy and reality while journaling her struggles.
“Art is my fantasy and reality. It is my way of expression but to also blow off steam and quieten down.”
As with all her works, Bendini uses the female gaze through a combination of painting, writing, drawing, and installations to create layered documentation of a unique woman’s experience. Revealing layers of exuberant transformation that define new spaces of power within the feminine soul, Bendini’s painterliness evokes tenderness that softens the intensity of the intimate struggle. With bodies painted in warm tones, a delicate glow emits from her paintings.
In this series of paintings, Bendini often includes figures that are near and dear to her heart. As seen in the painting, Darkest Before Dawn (2022), portrays the inseparable bond between Bendini and her close friend and fellow figure model, Nina. This painting is a depiction of holding space as they embrace each other while they weather through the dark nights together.
The approach Bendini takes to painting is an act of invitation to consider the meandering path to wholeness and presence. Beholding significance and specific connotations, The Waning, Waxing Birth of Fullness (2022) is an archetype of Triple Goddesses as The Maiden, The Mother & The Crone – each of which symbolizes both a separate stage in the female life cycle and a phase of the Moon, and often rules one of the realms of heavens, earth and the underworld.
The various phases of the moon that are portrayed in the painting are inextricably linked to the Divine Feminine and signify energies of clairvoyance, creativity, empathy, nurture, wisdom, and mysticism.
“the moon is full tonight” i send a text over,
and again the following month,
“the moon is glorious”
you remind me of the moon, with your moods,
methati spirit, smoke, sadness,
your eyes water easily, crying on my behalf
transfer, transform, transpire
conspire, all these words always cut too short,
and come, nowhere close.
Writer, visual and performance artist, ila’s free-form text accompanies both the painting and the installation piece; The Start Is the End and the End Starts Again (2022). It celebrates the special bond and serves as an illustration of how spiritually intertwined they are. At different times, both of them stumbled upon the identical instrument that had been destroyed. Thus what might appear fortuitous at first glance may actually have deeper significance.
They only knew of each other’s encounters which is in reverence to the title of the show, From These Ruins, We Rise and Fall.
Referencing the impressionistic notion of Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows (1890), Bendini’s state of mind is depicted in What Is Painting but the Act of Embracing by Means of Art the Surface of the Pool (2022) as she portrays sinking into a slough of despond. The crows symbolize death and rebirth, the protagonist though on verge of drowning in the marshes, reaches their hand out for help. Her self-portraits speak of self-invention, personal salvation and the human connection with a message: “It’s ok if you need some Help too.”
Marla Bendini (b. 1986, Singapore) is a cross-disciplinary artist and trans woman working in painting, text, sound and performance to articulate the infinitely faceted transgender experience on her own terms.
She started painting and making installations during her junior college education in 2004 and was a BFA Interactive Media graduate of School of Art, Design & Media (ADM) at Nanyang Technological University in 2013, where she focused on interactive video installations, film and performance. Marla Bendini has performed and exhibited in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau, Sweden, Spain and the United States of America.
From These Ruins, We Rise and Fall will be on view at Cuturi Gallery from 12 to 27 November 2022.