Early Works: Faces (1980-1999)
"To view Darla Bjork’s work is to confront those unmapped spaces in the human psyche from which we have been taught to avert our gaze. Bjork’s paintings depict a world in which the boundaries between madness and sanity, life and death, are permeable, and change precipitous. Her figures, talismans against the refusal to see, compel us to recognize a continuum between states we prefer to imagine as stable in their opposition.
Depicting a precarious and vulnerable physicality, Bjork constructs her figures from transparent layers – achingly thin skin barely contains flesh, and flesh separates to reveal bone. Neither containment nor protection is possible. Bjork’s sensuous paint handling recalls the landscapes she once painted, until “one looked like a face.” Her palette is lush, but pleasure in color and the physicality of paint is mediated by an enveloping darkness that leaches tone from her saturated colors, even as it threatens the membrane-like enclosure of figures poised at the edge, ensnared in the void beyond the bounded self."
- Excerpt from Essay by Flavia Rando