As she has done in the past, Nina Abney here creates a highly personal, imaginative, and eclectic interpretation of a literary source. Forbidden Fruit, part of a series inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, alludes to the chapter featuring a hookah-puffing caterpillar. According to the artist, the composition of the figures and the choice of light blue and green were drawn from Henri Matisse’s 1909 painting The Dance. Sea-Monkeys (a species of brine shrimp sold as curiosities during the artist’s childhood) provided the model for the two figures with antennae sitting on the left, and the numbers that appear on various figures also have personal meaning for Abney. Though the original Alice is absent here, Abney’s boldly hued hallucinatory scene populated by fantastic creatures vividly simulates the magical environment of the text, in which Alice experiments with mushrooms that allow her to grow and shrink in size.
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