Oil painting of a woman holding a man's legs like a wheelbarrow

Talking About Leaving
By Rebecca Orcutt
Oil on canvas, 2021
60 x 72 inches

Rebecca Orcutt constructs quiet, theatrical spaces in her ambiguously narrative paintings. She deliberately establishes moments where the characters seem to wait for events to unfold, the nature and outcomes of which are unclear. Within this uncertainty, she seeks to allow the familiar to transcend functionality and the commonplace, opening the viewer to the subtle emotions continually at play in our daily lives. With carefully arranged compositions stripped of detail until only the vital remains, the figures come to occupy spaces more psychological than physical and every relationship, be it between figures or between figure and object, becomes a point of tension. Within these unsettled relationships Orcutt builds a sense of tension and expectation, inviting the viewer to their own conclusions.

A woman holds the ankles of a man in a strange game of wheelbarrow in the surreal Talking About Leaving. Her eyes are downcast, but more in introspection than in focus on her partner. She is in motion, while he seems paused, his head turned slightly as if turning to regard her. The landscape is sparse, offering no further clues to their interaction. No conversation is depicted, suggesting the unusual pose is a metaphor for their dialogue. Muted colors and a limited palette hint to melancholy and quiet. Is “leaving” the split of a relationship or a journey, together, to a new place? Talking About Leaving is currently included in the traveling exhibition Rising Voices 2: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Artists organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art.

Orcutt received a bachelor’s degree in painting from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art in New York City. While enrolled at the NYAA, she was a President’s Scholar and was awarded the Leipzig International Art Programme Residency in Germany. Her work has appeared in shows around New York and the United States and internationally in exhibitions in Copenhagen, Denmark; Leipzig, Germany; at the National Portrait Gallery in London; the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland; and the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Ireland. In 2019, Orcutt was awarded an honorable mention in the inaugural Bennett Prize.

You can learn more about the artist at her website at www.beckyorcutt.com and follow her on Instagram @beeorcutt.