Mira Dancy: Madonna Undone | THE HEAVY LIGHT SHOW | Melanie Schiff: Convict Lake

2276 East 16th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Sep 24, 11 AM - 5 PM — ends Oct 29, 2022
Night Gallery is proud to announce Madonna Undone, an exhibition of new work by the Los Angeles-based artist Mira Dancy. This is the artist’s fourth solo show with the gallery.

In Madonna Undone, Mira Dancy brings her signature take on chromatic figuration into expanded compositional fields, her subjects exuding strength within vivid naturalistic scenes. Dancy moved from New York City to Los Angeles in 2020, and evidence of this shift in environment is alluded to throughout the exhibition: wide skies, the craggy forms of mountains, and the more impressionistic features of the landscape, such as the sun’s intensity and the heat of the air.

For many, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade was a waking nightmare that laid bare our proximity to the full restoration of patriarchy. The profound impact the decision has had on Dancy ripples through her newest body of work. While her figures often arise from amalgams of many kinds of mothers—mythological, cosmological, and relational—these works directly channel the emotions linked to a loss of bodily autonomy and the notion of conscripted motherhood.

Encompassing paintings, plexiglass elements, and ephemeral sand gestures, Madonna Undone underscores self-determination in both the physical and spiritual realms. Dancy considers several of her new works “inversions” of annunciation paintings, or musings on a Madonna “Without Child.” The iconic Madonna is reconceptualized from a human vessel to an emblem of individual agency and the sacred nature of choice. Sweeping linework and intricate structures of color and shape echo the complex interiority of this figure. In Per the Pendulum, viewers encounter the continual mirroring of a single self, giving the canvas an expansive quality brimming with embodied power.

Elsewhere, Immaculate Reversal seeks to unravel the subjugation of the traditional annunciation painting. At the work’s center is a vibrant, jagged form resembling a chrysalis or womb, seemingly on the edge of transformation. Dancy endeavors here to override the sexist underpinnings of the “immaculate conception” by suggesting, instead, a divine abortion. From Dancy's striking geometries emerge declarations of autonomy, refracting the darkness of our shared reality into the possibility of finding new light in new images.

Mira Dancy (b. 1979) has had solo exhibitions at Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Yuz Museum, Shanghai; Chapter NY, New York; Galería Agustina Ferreyra, Mexico City; Galerie Hussenot, Paris; Lumber Room, Portland; and JOAN, Los Angeles. Her work is included in the permanent collections of LACMA, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Columbus Museum of Art, OH; and Yuz Foundation, Shanghai. In 2015, Dancy was included in Greater New York at MoMA PS1. She has been covered in the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, Vogue, Kaleidoscope, and ArtNews, among other publications. Dancy lives and works in Los Angeles.


THE HEAVY LIGHT SHOW: Sarah Braman, Mary Corse, Carla Edwards, Olivia Erlanger, Laurie Kang, Anne Libby, Eli Ping


Night Gallery is thrilled to present Convict Lake, an exhibition of new photographs by the Los Angeles-based artist Melanie Schiff. This is the artist’s second solo show with the gallery, following 2018’s Glass Sabbath. Her work was also included in the group shows Shrubs in 2022, and MAJEURE FORCE in 2020.

Convict Lake is an evocation of light. In the eponymous photograph, taken by Schiff at Convict Lake in eastern California, placid water shines with an ethereal intensity, two glittering pools mirroring one another. Schiff’s complex treatment of color melds into a distinctive binary between light and dark that makes the time of day ambiguous. Long exposure abstracts the image as a whole, crystallizing the uncanny ability of light to simultaneously obscure and clarify. It is as the image suspends time that Schiff amplifies our awareness of it, invoking the realism of the photographic medium.

Schiff’s practice has long been invested in conveying action, often explored through ritualism and bodily gesture. For Convict Lake, Schiff draws upon some of the most fundamental of sources—sun and fire—to investigate how light can imply movement, both physically and temporally. In the artist’s Burning series, serpentine arms become embodied candle holders, languidly transferring the flame from one wick to another. Wax collects on the wood table below as a reminder of the ephemeral nature of the candle. Schiff’s pared down composition compels slowed viewing, quietly shuttling between the concreteness of the objects of gaze and an underlying mysticism.

The artist uses the camera lens as an extension of the mind, working to frame visual information and thus orient us to the exterior world. Our past experiences are woven into these processes of looking and comprehending, and Schiff’s deft manipulation of light creates an atmosphere for recollection. Convict Lake presents several “found” still lifes, wherein everyday, neglected scenes are limned in fading sunlight: brittle flora and dried weeds are recurrent motifs, saturated in the golden hues and thin shadows of the late afternoon. Here, Schiff traverses into the slippery plane of memory, leaving us hanging between the desire to linger on a hazy thought and the immediacy of spectatorship.