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Sophie Larrimore’s Canine Effeminate

I like artists like Sophie Larrimore. It’s not because her work is so fabulously, achingly dreamy but because she validates a feeling that I constantly question: an overwhelming love of dogs.

The Brooklyn artist creates watercolor and acrylic paintings of puffy poodles and bathing women in pale pastels that appear to be washing into a frolic of inter-species fun. Her puppies and people laze around swimming holes and pal around soft greenscapes, all happy and bright with an incredible love hidden in brief glances of a crazed dog’s eye. The works represent those small moments, those brief exchanges that you have with a dog that illustrates an unknown, untold magic that animals have in brightening life. For Larrimore, poodles must have that effect.

While I’d love to just say “These are cute poodle paintings!,” the work reaches beyond representation to do a few things. They recall softened pointilism, as if she is creating her own imagined doggy Sundays In The Park With George observation. They also suggest a quiet relationship that people—specifically women—have with dogs, these creatures who do not judge and who only live to serve instead of stifle.

Glancing through Larrimore’s older work reveals that her paintings are indeed all about dogs but not in the literal sense: they are accessories, accomplices, in quiet moments in need of companionship. In one work, a nude woman holds a dog at night as it licks her face. In another, a nude woman is seated at a table, face nuzzled into the neck of a dog. These animals are more than “around” but company for those in need, for whatever reason. Even if for a second of escape, even if for a lifetime of companionship, these animals are dream surrogates for so much (children, happiness, love, family, etc.) and its too easy to reduce them to “animals.”

Larrimore’s work is fantastic and I am so incredibly, incredibly, incredibly tempted to reach out to see if any are available for purchase. No, I do not have the expendable income for a piece (as I’m sure they’re quite pricey) but I’ve always dreamt of curating a show of dog paintings throughout history and Larrimore would be a necessary inclusion on behalf of the present. If you love her puppy paintings like I do, I highly suggest you follow her on Instagram too.

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