Samantha Rosenwald: Shoe Show

5523 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038
Oct 01, 6 PM - 9 PM — ends Nov 05, 2022
Sebastian Gladstone is pleased to present Shoe Show, a solo exhibition of colored pencil paintings by Los Angeles based artist Samantha Rosenwald. The exhibition will open at our Hollywood gallery on Saturday, October 1 with an opening reception from 6-9pm, and will run through Saturday, November 5, 2022. In Shoe Show Rosenwald posits the human body as a screen: a passive site onto which social trends and contemporary culture impose themselves and play out their own autonomous narratives.

Using satirical appropriation of popular culture and art history, Rosenwald’s practice navigates the funny yet quietly painful spectacle of human existence: an experience that is beautiful in theory, though absurdist in practice. In her paintings, the artist presents feet, wrapped up-tethered-primped, and compositionally cropped. These croppings illuminate the fetishistic gaze of the viewer, and bring to light the intensity and pageantry of modern consumerism. The shoe becomes a vessel of a vessel, an object wrapped up in expectations and dreams, holding a body that becomes an object, with its own set of rules and requirements.

The work Self-Care is a nod to the beauty industry, wherein the artist creates a shoe born out of an exploded vanity cabinet. Here, a vibrator for a heal props a jar of nail polish leaning on a bath-bomb, the toe stuck in a drippy scented-candle. It seems these are just a smidgen of the required ingredients for contemporary living. The shoe looks uncomfortable, almost impossible to walk in–the big toe is on fire, a podiatric hell to which some viewers may recognize. This pile of banal objects become impractical to a point of danger—her protagonist is loaded with so much junk they can no longer walk.

In another piece The Dealer, Rosenwald depicts an art dealer in a high-heeled leather pump. The heel displays paraphernalia like drugs and money. To the artist, the shoe belongs to a theoretical art dealer darting through the world. A little xanax for the next flight, some Advil when they arrive, to the rolled up hundred-dollar bill which serves as the heel’s “support system”. Here the artist simmers the dealer's identity to a boiling heap of the sum of her parts — a perfect paradox of pain and glamor. Through visual pun and personification, Rosenwald gives life to her subjects, despite their lack of personhood.

Through these tableaux, a rich and specific language emerges that is at once relatable and reflective of our current time. Though many references hit on the nose, others are shrouded in layers of meaning, wordplay, and visual thought trains. The paintings are rich with texture, reference, and personal anecdote. The fetishistic nature of Rosenwald's latest body of work contains a beautiful voyeuristic quality. Through the repetitive compositional cropping, the viewer is forced down to foot level, where they are confronted directly with the lustful or even depraved connotations surrounding the marvel of this body part. By refuting the personhood of her subjects, while simultaneously elaborating the persona in her feet, Rosenwald drags the viewer down a dissociative rabbit hole where reality is abstracted and a warped, perverted surreality reins.