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Pearly Shade

Gladys Nilsson


watercolor and gouache on paper

40 1/2" x 60"

Perspective and scale are subverted and suspended in this jam-packed composition. The pearlescent central figure, rooted through one leg and perched on her elbow, appears to float before a segmented background. A multitude of tiny figures surround the impassive woman, who closely examine her calves, knees, and shoulders. Some of their interactions appear mischievous—are the figures fleeing through the woods being chased? Are the men surrounding the large woman’s head tugging at her hair or propping it up? The answers, and a broader context, elude the viewer and keep us questioning. Distorted, absurd figures, and an obscure setting create an uncanny, dreamlike scene.


The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism