The environments depicted in Larissa Bates’ paintings oscillate from her childhood upbringing in Costa Rica and Vermont to the imaginative and surreal. Through her signature method of flattened painstakingly detailed painting, Bates continues to challenge traditional gender roles, raise environmental awareness and question social politics and governing decisions. However, this body of work offers a visual script for re-branding masculinity. It attempts to construct a new gender code where men unabashedly possess traits traditionally associated with women: sensitivity, vulnerability, tenderness and even childbirth. Bates’ model is devoid of social pressures placed upon men to posses a strong bravado; hence the title of the exhibition: MotherMen.
Bates’ paintings accumulate an array of symbolism and an abundance of visual information that begs to be carefully examined and dissected by the viewer. Set against a backdrop of architecture, war and invented geometric spaces, the inhabitants range from family members and `mermen’ – a hybrid of a man and a mermaid – to wrestlers. Reminiscent of the strange worlds depicted by Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516) and influenced by Japanese and Rococo motifs, Bates’ investigations are universal, yet undoubtedly stem from personal experiences.