I have always been drawn to butterfly and insect collections, the kind found in antique stores, where minuscule bodies are pinned in rows and neatly framed. Alicia Malik’s paintings belong to this category of study but they differ importantly: rather than tack the dead creature to a stark white mat board, as if it were a perfect graphic object—though, truth be told, they make marvelous objects—she treats it as an empathetic subject, in all its lonely lifelessness. Malik finds craneflies and hornets already deceased, stiff on windowsills, and makes careful studies of them in watercolor or paint. The results are half portrait, half still life. Curiously, they don’t all look obviously dead: a honeybee seems to be resting cutely on its side, a beetle might be on its way somewhere. Stranger still, most are surrounded by nebulous non-space. Entranced with these tiny arthropods, one wishes for a bit more detail, but appreciates the great care they’ve received in memoriam.
—Lori Waxman 11/11/16 12:20 PM