It all started last summer, when Orchard was located in Cap Ferret, on the Atlantic coast of France. A painting she made there became Pêches Plates, a luminous but uncanny painting with an inverted figure – nude and cubist, like That’s how Orchard’s women tend to be—reclining on the sofa bed, her head resting on an open book. A bowl of bananas and the titular peaches, a lamp and an unhooked rotary telephone sit on the bedside table, while a martini glass (supposedly a dirty gin) sits on the armchair. With all these delightful objects and bright colors, it is almost easy to miss the defining features of the composition: her shadowy belly, the fiction of longing for the future, or the loss of the present.
A similar body, inverted and shadow-belly, appears at A Fallow Field. These women may look rested, but they hang uncomfortably. Something creepy, even sinister, is going on. “That incongruity is what I’m really interested in,” Orchard said.
A third distended stomach, this time tangible, appears in Our Sympathies (after Wyeth) . Stunned by the ethereal beauty of Andrew Wyeth’s 1980 paintingDay Dream, Orchard made her own version with Similar veils – like the canopy draped over the protagonist and the red spindles on the headboard. The painting was originally conceived to depict a pregnant woman resting, but a recovery period emerged following Orchard’s miscarriage. But it’s not all blues: A defying physics egg and another peach add some levity to the foreground.
Orchard’s art history references are plentiful. Similar to her homage to Wyeth is Le Cauchemar, Picasso’s famous nightmare of the dreaming lady in Le Rêve . Here, the figure’s eyes are open, and her gaze is dejected. She has the same head tilt that reveals one breast. But instead of porn, the mood is melancholy, and the character holding the bird’s nest is infiltrated by a tiny snake. There’s glistening orchardism here, too: look closely to the left of the painting and you’ll see tiny sperm swimming among the green grapes, a scene from a once orchard dream.