Courtney Love on Her Debut Art Show: “She’s Not Even Pretty”

By Mara Siegler

“I just did that one yesterday and they just framed it. To see something get framed that fast is amazing. It’s for David,” Courtney Love states as she leads a crowd of people in a spontaneous zig-zag during a preview of her new exhibition “She’s Not Even Pretty” at Fred Torres Gallery, pointing out one painting and the next in a stream of consciousness whirlwind.

The David in question is both Love and Torres’ friend, the photographer and artist David LaChapelle, who encouraged the 45 painting show. Also receiving advice from Julian Schnabel, this debut seems a long time coming; Love studied fine art at the San Francisco Art Institute in ’80s.

Filled with bright colors, smudge marks and scrawling poems by Love and giants of the cannon like Robert Frost, they look like pages torn from a teenager’s diary. A very messed up teenager. In one, a woman hangs from a cross, in another a woman is bleeding, a torn dress hanging on the wall has written in red paint the words “Not my cunt on my dime Mister.”

They reveal a darker violence, a sadness and vulnerability much like Love does in her public persona filled with manic highs and tragic lows. The release states: “The subjects of Love’s drawings are based on the artist’s personal experiences, friends, and her interest in fin de siècle paintings in which women are portrayed as powerful femme fatales, virtuous heroines, or as non-individual beings whose purpose is purely sexual.”

The naked woman featured in each, blonde and doll-like, could easily be mistaken for self-portrait but Love insists they’re not all of her. But they look just like you someone says. “Sometimes but sometimes no. Like this one, I hope the girl doesn’t recognize if she comes,” Love trails. “She’s coming. I don’t want her to because it’s kind of violent. Sometimes, but sometimes no.”

Many works are of her ‘girl crushes’ like Sarah Barnhart and Gwyneth Paltrow. The first painting she did was given to Daphne Guinness. “I started giving them out to girlfriends as gifts and then Fred and David were giving me paper. Sometimes it’s fifth grade material and sometimes it really good material and the studio just brought be bigger and bigger paper, velum, and I just started doing it,” she says. “I have playlists that I put on and I stay in my loft and they bring me really good paper from here and really good Crayolas. Sometimes Kendra (works for gallery) brings me good pastels and sometimes it looks like the ones from 4th grade. I just find the right playlist and then I get geeked up.”

She doesn’t give an answer when asked what songs, but Love’s art does seem to reflect her music, much of which deals with all the particularly harsh aspects of the experiences of being female. “Doll Parts,” “Celebrity Skin” and “Pretty on the Inside” come to mind when viewing, though any of her songs would likely do. So does Love struggle with the way she looks? “I feel pretty,” she says casually to the group around her, as if it’s a strange question to even ask.

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  • KaLaMaRiNo0

    Go! :D