Connor Marie Stankard: Love Apple | Sarah Awad: To Hold a Thing
2050 Imperial St. Los Angeles, CA 90021
Saturday, March 23 at 5:00 PM 8:00 PM
Ends Apr 27, 2024
CONNOR MARIE STANKARD: Love Apple Night Gallery is pleased to announce Love Apple, an exhibition of new oil paintings on canvas by Connor Marie Stankard. This is the artist’s first solo presentation with the gallery and follows her participation in the 2022 group exhibition The Heavy Light Show. Fruit shrivels off the vine. Death begins its crawl at birth. Every beginning implies an end. We know. And still, between the poles of alive and not, we attempt to slow the passage of time, to mark ourselves as those who were here and knew beauty. Cycles of decay and desire move in lockstep within the world of Connor Marie Stankard’s Love Apple. The paintings depict pallid fruit, enervated livestock, and scant limbs in ambient states of rot and reproduction. Rendered in shades of black, red, white, and blue, these bruised forms occupy the same sparse, dark room. It’s unclear whether the inhabitants have been there for an afternoon or a century, or if they want out. Stankard taxonomizes the organisms she creates, collecting matter in her dark tank as an attempt to pause the march of time. Such is a paradox of beauty: to preserve that which is perpetually disintegrating. As the word vanity signifies pride and futility, the paintings operate as a vivarium, able to hold the tragicomedy of both meanings. Vanitas painting, a still-life tradition in which objects serve as reminders of death, appears throughout Stankard’s practice. But while the historical objective of vanitas was to instill pious humility in viewers, Love Apple does not moralize. It hums with sinister glamor and hysterical pleasure. The apple is a rudimentary motif, familiar enough to withstand perversion. Stankard’s are misshapen and hermaphroditic—the artist shows them moldering, teeming with seminal force, and dripping between legs. Some are hatching. Others have died long ago. Platonic and erotic love intertwine ambiguously in the dim space. A girl's face looms large and vertical. She stands as both guardian and observer, presiding over Stankard's shadowy biosphere and its visitors. Her pupils are dilated, a phenomenon associated with both prolonged exposure to darkness and a physical reaction to feelings of love. - SARAH AWAD: To Hold a Thing Night Gallery is pleased to present To Hold a Thing, an exhibition of new paintings by Sarah Awad. This will be the artist's third solo show with the gallery following Double Field (2018) and Tender Observer (2021). In To Hold a Thing, Awad continues to explore the space between abstract and figurative painting. Each canvas begins with an expressive underpainting rendered in watercolor and vinyl paint. The artist then studies these improvisations: She makes charcoal-on-paper drawings in response to their marks, then seeks out the figures within the fields of lush color, coaxing each body out into the open with fluid gestural lines set against vivid chunks of oil paint. Awad manipulates paint with intuition and the focus of a seasoned alchemist. Through years of study and practice, she has come to control not only the way that colors respond to one another visually, but also how pigments interact on a molecular level. Painting wet into wet with different water soluble mediums prompts chemical reactions. While suspended in water, red repels white and yellow absorbs black. When these reactions settle, they become frozen in time like igneous rock formations on the surface of her canvases. These moments are then delicately embellished with layers upon layers of oil paint, and an even richer surface remains. The nude figures in Awad’s compositions do not depict any specific person or persons. Instead, they can be seen as ghosts from the rich history of Western painting. Echos of Gauguin, Picasso, DeKooning, Cassatt, and numerous other familiars vibrate within her electric colors. The nude, female form as subject exists as a through line in this history, and in these paintings it becomes a marker of “subject” to be sought out by the viewer, who is tasked with the puzzle of distinguishing the abstractions from the legs, breasts, faces, etc. These figures are pointedly not self portraits, but their ability to reflect on and exist within a tradition that is greater than any one individual is a comforting metaphor that unfolds on these canvases for both artist and viewer.
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