These oil paintings are inspired by decadent novel Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans. In this novel, the main character Des Esseintes has become disillusioned by modern urban life and escapes to the countryside where he carefully designs a unique aesthetic environment. This atmosphere is saturated with rich colors, patterns, and nature, all of which aim to appease his cynical attitude and desensitized palate. His dissatisfaction with the world and the people of his past seem exaggerated and border on hallucinatory. Several images, including the new works on paper, have been based on the vintage prints and engravings by British Horticulturalist Robert Furber and American Illustrator Charles Allan Gilbert. The gardenscapes, bouquets, and portraits that are part of this series are meant to be the distorted visions and memories of Des Esseintes.
"One function of art is to show us familiar things in new and strange ways, and this is what Leila Cartier achieves with her paintings of flowers. With their highly saturated colors and eye-locking intensity, they make the flower, usually an unthreatening sign of beauty, into something almost depraved – the ruthless seducer of the plant kingdom." Matthew Dinaro for Metro, January 14, 2015
"...Cartier's most recent series of paintings can be described as a collective dystopia secured within a cocoon of scientific intrigue. Her pursuits in depicting such an environment are indirectly tied to her interests in Kafka's homological tropes and literary exploration of the weak human condition and toward theories of evolution that emphasize how the progress of nature has yet to be harnessed by man." From the essay for Wide-Eyed Garden, curated by Adam Justice