Petah Coyne: A Silver Pied Peacock

September 24 - November 06, 2021

Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art is excited to announce Petah Coyne’s solo exhibition, A Silver Pied Peacock, in cooperation with Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, opening September 24th in Houston, Texas. This will be Coyne’s first solo exhibition since joining Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art.

A Silver Pied Peacock takes its name from the variety of peacock included in the exhibition’s centerpiece, Untitled #1388M (Alias Grace), 2013-14. Known for its rarity and beauty, the origins of the Silver Pied Peacock can be traced back to the White-Eyed and India Blue Peacock varieties. The abundance of intrigue surrounding this bird made Untitled #1388M (Alias Grace) a natural focal point for the exhibition, which includes sculpture — glass, and of course, wax, Coyne’s signature medium — and photography. Works featured in A Silver Pied Peacock span from the artist’s early 1990s photographs to more recent wax works, including a new and never-before-exhibited sculpture.

Literature has always been a source of artistic inspiration for Coyne, emphasized by the fact that many pieces in A Silver Pied Peacock reference some of her favorite authors, such as Jane Austen and Elena Ferrante. Untitled #1388M (Alias Grace) serves as yet another literary reference, borrowing its title from Margaret Atwood’s 1996 historical fiction novel, Alias Grace, whose complex protagonist reminded Coyne of the Silver Pied Peacock.

In addition to celebrating under-recognized female authors and artists, Coyne champions historical figures, such as the tenacious “Lily of the Mohawks,” Patroness of Environment and Ecology and inspiration for her new sculpture Untitled #1522 (Lily of the Mohawks), 2020-21. Other notable historical women — such as Catherine the Great and Empress Dowager Cixi, both of whom significantly transformed their respective countries — are paid tribute to in a series of hand-blown glass sculptures. Famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is also celebrated in Untitled #1426 (Frida Kahlo), 2016-18.

Coyne also derives inspiration from her own life experiences. The majority of photographs in A Silver Pied Peacock come from the Monks Series, which the artist shot while visiting Mount Kōya in Japan. These black and white photographs depict a group of monks in the midst of a prayer ritual. In awe of their synchronicity, focus, and dedication, Coyne sought to capture the monks’ movement on camera. The addition of photography in A Silver Pied Peacock further illustrates the juxtapositional elements of Coyne’s work by introducing a sense of transformation and gesture alongside her formidable sculptures.