I Saw This: Never-Never Land

Gala Bent at Gallery4Culture.

Gala Bent is the author of tall tales, in gouache and graphite with imagined animals caught in suspended animation. One of the strongest pieces in her current solo show at Gallery4Culture is Ship for Fools, depicting a long-haired girl, bent over the side of a kaleidoscope-colored vessel, with a blue unicorn on her back. Look closely at the girl’s wrists, and you’ll see fingers extending from what look like hooves. White puffs emerge from all sides of the craft, which seems more airborne than seafaring. (It hovers in a pale blue wash; the ground could be either air or water.) Here as elsewhere Bent indulges in fanciful patterns and highly worked details. The texture of the girl’s hair is carefully rendered, as are the individual drops of blood spilling from a gash in the unicorn’s haunch. The details read as true stop-action documentation, even if the narrative is more oblique.