Artist documents the pain of isolation in realistic oil paintings

“It’s not what you wanted”, 2021

New York artist Alyssa Monks forces us to confront deep feelings of anguish in her new series titled Everything is under control. Inspired by the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, these realistic canvases compel viewers to watch the emotional tales of solitary figures, slightly abstracted by the damp glass of their shower stalls.

From hiding behind their hands to staring at the wall, these intimate portraits depict a range of reactions to crisis, each with their own unique voice. “Sometimes the recent global and national devastation, division and so many disappointments felt like a surreal projection of my own mental states in isolation over the past 18 months,” Monks says. “I began to explore the human addiction to control and predictability, and how our deepest suffering stems from our attachment to security, virtue, identity, and the logic of cause and effect.”

According to Monks, placing the figures in a slightly transparent bathroom cubicle serves several purposes. “The glass barrier in these paintings between subject and viewer is darkened by a vapor that obscures and abstracts the subject,” she says. “This barrier underscores the personal and community concern about virus-laden respiratory droplets and the isolation it creates.” As a result, the viewer’s perception of these characters is ambiguous; we cannot see the full expression of their faces or any clear details. Instead, we infer their emotions through body language and the drama of the foggy setting.

Some of the paintings in this series are still available for purchase through the Forum Gallery. You can also find prints of the artist’s paintings via his website, and keep up to date with Monks’ latest work and upcoming exhibitions by following the artist on Instagram.

New York artist Alyssa Monks captures the human addiction to control and predictability in her series Everything is under control.

Distressed Figure Oil Painting by Alyssa Monks

“Watch the only way out”, 2021

Distressed Figure Oil Painting by Alyssa Monks

Detail of “It’s not what you wanted”, 2021

Inspired by the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this series features paintings of lonely figures in times of deep distress.

Distressed Figure Oil Painting by Alyssa Monks

“Everything is under control”, 2021

Distressed Figure Oil Painting by Alyssa Monks

“Dissociate”, 2021

Each woman is alone in the shower cubicle, her anguish clearly felt even though her expression is distorted by the misty, wet glass.

Distressed Figure Oil Painting by Alyssa Monks

“No turning back”, 2021

Distressed Figure Oil Painting by Alyssa Monks

Detail of “No turning back”, 2021

Distressed Figure Oil Painting by Alyssa Monks

“We never see it coming”, 2021

Alyssa Monks: Website | Facebook | instagram

My Modern Met has granted permission to feature photos of Alyssa Monks.

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