Marilyn Holsing at Gallery Joe

Arts / Article

Gallery Joe opened up its newest solo show of works by Marilyn Holsing on Dec. 10. The show is entitled “Further Tales of Young Marie Antoinette” and involves narrative scenes showing the infamous French monarch in different imagined stages of her youth and engaging in a number of activities.

Holsing’s paintings are composed of strokes of paint, which are akin to stitches, and, recently, she began incorporating three-dimensional embroidery into her work, as well. The scenes are all laid out on paper, and, recently, these pieces of paper have begun to take on irregular and somewhat asymmetrical shapes, mostly round and oblong as opposed to the run-of-the-mill rectangle. If larger, they would resemble tapestries, but as they stand, they are more like elaborate doilies or placemats. They are all reminiscent of pre-photographic documentation and storytelling, and their pre-French Revolution historical fiction background plays into this idea splendidly.

As far as the narrative elements are concerned, the details of any given image are usually quite obscure. Her older works seem to highlight the bourgeois roots of the “Infanta” and focus on her cushy upbringing and spoiled nature (very directly so in the piece entitled “The Infanta is Pampered”). In a couple works she tries to “make herself small” or “practice camouflage,” hinting at her more down-to-earth and even humble practices, as well.

The Nail Biters

The fragments of locations and young female characters tie the older works to the somewhat darker, newer scenes. Of the actions in the newer pieces, much of the imagery lends itself to a general mood of uneasiness. Specifically, “The Nail Biters” references this anxiety directly in its title, but it is also apparent in “Mistaken,” where all of the figures appear blatantly distraught and upset. Aside from the nervous habits and mistaken identities, the colors themselves are also rather affecting. Holsing creates this newest series in deep shades of green, blue and black, bestowing them with an eerie and archaic feel.


Strange, postmodern clouds hang over the “Further Tales of Young Marie Antoinette.” The content seems straightforward, but the historically fictive elements and surprising depth of the otherwise flat characters makes these stories intriguing, even if their exact intentions lie somewhat hidden.

Gallery Joe is located at 302 Arch St.; 215-592-7752.