Maureen Dougherty | Peter Shear: Reality Show | Hiroka Yamashita: こをろこをろ koworo-koworo | March Avery: Quiet Inside
2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
Saturday, July 13 at 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
Ends Aug 30, 2024
BLUM is pleased to present New York-based artist Maureen Dougherty’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and in Los Angeles. Dougherty plays with the push and pull between innocence and maturity—deliberately blurring the two in renderings that serve as commentary on the state of media and contemporary culture. The painter draws imagery from platforms like Instagram or OnlyFans—known for its proliferation of social media archetypes and amateur pornography—and reflects these commonplace representations back upon themselves with eloquent mimesis rendered with sensual brush strokes that selectively reveal the artist’s hand. Hyperbolizing the peculiarities of her chosen scenes, Dougherty isolates her figures in monochromatic backgrounds with compositions that reference the work of more recent artists such as Alex Katz or Pablo Picasso as well as classical artists of the High Renaissance such as Raphael. The artist's images deal with human intimacy and connection, though Dougherty intentionally omits a certain level of detail to encourage the viewer to become curious about or even impose themselves on the painting's subject. Women on the rocks (2024) sees three women sitting seaside, together atop an ornate tapestry—a painterly moment which allows Dougherty’s previous explorations of abstraction to peak through. The ocean behind the artist’s figures has been rendered as a simple rectangle of cobalt below a block of lapis sky. This hyper-simplified background allows the viewer to focus more intently on each otherworldly figure. With lanky, toothpick legs that dissipate toward the bottom of the canvas and pristine profiles atop proudly exposed breasts, Dougherty notes that these women are served up to onlookers “on the rocks”—a sly commentary on the pervasive objectification of the female body. Dougherty’s paintings emphasize the female gaze as well as the agency of those who are gazed upon. These figures are empowered to exploit their own assets for personal gain. Subjects such as those in Grey Wall (2024), Green Sucker (2023–2024), or Blonde (2022) stare directly at the viewer as if daring their perceivers to look away——the latter doing so with baby Yoda in hand, in a true nod to the online culture from which the image was culled. Dougherty’s bodies are perfectly imperfect. Inflating chests and lips while shrinking and elongating spindly legs, the artist exposes the impossibility of body ideals that circulate across the internet. A technically skilled painter, having pursued colorist principles and narrative painting at the New York Studio School, Dougherty returned to figuration during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic after a decades-long fixation with decorative abstract motifs. It is perhaps this body of work’s origination in a moment of isolation for the artist that continues to imbue Dougherty’s paintings with such a unique and introspective humanity. Flattening her subjects to great effect, Dougherty critiques, examines, and thoughtfully reduces the pervasive post-internet imagery that binds us. The first monograph published on the artist, Maureen Dougherty: Women, will be released in conjunction with this exhibition. Published by Blurring Books, with over forty artworks, a conversation between the artist and curator Alison M. Gingeras, contributions from Joe Fyfe, David Rimanelli, and John Cheim, this title will be available at BLUM Los Angeles or via Dougherty will sign copies of the publication on opening night: Saturday, July 13, at 6pm. Maureen Dougherty (b. 1958, Schenectady, NY) studied painting at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, and at the New York Studio School, New York, NY. As a documentary filmmaker, Dougherty runs her own production company, Mojo Films. Dougherty lives and works in New York, NY. - I woke in a spacious room with lavender wallpaper and brocaded, antique drapes. There were clothes laid out for me on a fainting couch. They fit as if they had been tailored for me. As I descended the staircase, I had no idea what to expect. A maid showed me to the breakfast room and brought me coffee and biscuits. I stared out the window at the gardens. After a while, a man entered the room and asked me if I had everything I needed. "Oh yes," I said, "everything is lovely." ''Do you have any questions?" he asked me. "No," I said. “Later, Gwen and I will show you around the grounds,” he said. "I look forward to that,” I said. Then he left me there all alone. Gwendolyn. It's strange how one knows nothing, and, yet, knows more than one wants to know. I knew that I would fall in love with Gwendolyn. I knew that there would be a duel. I knew that this graceful mansion would burn to the ground. I sat there waiting, incredibly lonesome with my awful knowledge. (James Tate, “The Fragrant Cloud”) BLUM is pleased to announce the representation of Bloomington, Indiana-based artist Peter Shear on the occasion of Reality Show, the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Utilizing the art of suggestion, Shear loosely renders recognizable forms in distinctive palettes to create paintings that trigger open-ended recognition in their viewers. Drawing inspiration from a range of topics as disparate as the internet is vast, Shear intakes a large quantity of visual information—a single painting may, for instance, be influenced by the oeuvre of Dutch Golden Age painter Judith Leyster, an image of several neatly arranged green Adidas Sambas, a drawing by contemporary British artist David Shrigley, and a news headline that reads “Where’s Princess Kate?” The resulting works broadly deploy intuitively familiar aesthetics to underscore our universally shared connection to the collective unconscious. With compositions that alternate between pure abstraction and representational elements, Shear avoids stylistic categorization, instead preferring to respond to and channel the whims of his materials. Activating an interest in the artifice of painting, Shear cross-pollinates devices that span the medium—diffusing mountain-like crests into the prongs of gestural brushstrokes in Land (2023) or playing with depth perception as created by shading a geometric abstraction in Double Sided (2024). By resisting the traditional schools of painting, Shear makes room for a viewer to situate his work amongst any number of subjective things or ideas. Taking this prompt for individualized interpretation one step further, Shear states that his paintings are meant to encourage viewers to “finish the sentence.” In other words, the intention of each work has been left open-ended in a generous gesture that allows space for personal associations and experiences. In this way, the connection formed between individual and painting is the work’s purpose— each canvas or panel is otherwise left open and free of determination until the next psyche sets out to explore it. In a post-internet era, Carl Jung’s collective unconscious has materialized in Instagram—this platform has become the well from which much of the population draws their imagery and information. Shear’s work is informed by the manner in which social media impacts our absorption of news. “I think the way that my paintings cycle in and out of themes or argue with each other mimics the Instagram environment—you’re seeing, for instance, a Rothko next to Hypebeast sneakers. The mind tells a story about that, and I’m interested in how people put things together.” The artist’s first monograph, Accident Report, was released earlier this year by American Art Catalogues. Shear will sign copies during the public opening, Saturday, July 13, at 6pm. Peter Shear (b.1980, Beverly Farms, MA) lives and works in Bloomington, IN, and has shown his work across the United States and internationally. Recently, his work was the subject of the solo exhibition Time Stamp at Herron School of Art + Design, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN (2019). Group exhibitions include The Feminine In Abstract Painting, The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation, New York, NY (2023); A Wild Note of Longing: Albert Pinkham Ryder and a Century of American Art, New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA (2021); Locus Focus: Peter Shear and Arvind Sundararajan, 840 Gallery, University of Cincinnati, OH (2018); and Basic Instinct, Peter Shear and Ellen Siebers, FJORD, Philadelphia, PA (2016). - BLUM is pleased to present こをろこをろ koworo-koworo, Okayama-based artist Hiroka Yamashita’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, and the artist’s first in Los Angeles. The paintings that Yamashita presents in こをろこをろ koworo-koworo exist within adjoining transitional spaces: between the otherworldly forces of myth and everyday reality or between the knowledge cultivated in times past and instances of historical amnesia in the present. Placing ghostly figures in serene landscapes, the artist reconsiders and gives harmonious form to these stark contrasts. Through her painting style—which straddles abstraction and figuration—and subject matter, Yamashita examines a core concept of animism by exposing the seraphic in the everyday. The exhibition title, an onomatopoeia that sounds like the stirring of the ocean and refers to the origin myth of the Japanese archipelago, insinuates the mining of ancestral customs, giving these intentionally forgotten tales a fresh embodiment. Conveying pervasive folklore anew, Yamashita’s works on linen refashion long-established parables in dazzling tones and strokes. The ethereal or hazy quality of Yamashita’s brushwork further characterizes the worlds that she’s building—emphasizing the fantastical elements inherent to each vignette. With delicate marks made with oil paint, the artist alternates filling portions of her canvas with either airy translucency or sharp opacity—through these finishes effectively discerning between what belongs to the terrain of reality or the imagination. In 《戸開》Tobiraki (2024), for instance, a spectral figure hovers outside of a sepia-toned cave, its form marked only by the sheerest application of white pigment. Like much of the imagery in Yamashita’s recent work, the scene depicted in 《戸開》Tobiraki is taken from Japanese mythology. Separate works depict portions of the well-known story of Amano-Iwato wherein the Sun Goddess Amaterasu secluded herself in a cave, discouraged by the violence she saw from her own brother, thus plunging the world into darkness. To coax the goddess out of hiding, the other gods gathered outside of the cave to dance and celebrate—as shown in Yamashita’s painting 《ウズメ》 UZUME (2024). Amaterasu, curious about the laughter she heard, peaked outside of the cave and was captivated by her reflection in a mirror that had been placed there for this purpose. This scene is depicted in Yamashita’s 《鏡 (アマテラス)》 Mirror (Amaterasu) (2024). “This exhibition mainly features works related to Bitchū kagura, a traditional dance practice rooted in Shinto rituals that has been passed down for generations in the Okayama, Bitchū area,” Yamashita says. Thought to derive from the event of luring Amaterasu from her cave, kagura is a type of Shinto ritual ceremonial dance. In most kagura performances in Japan, there is a portion dedicated to the story of Amano-Iwato. Yamashita’s painting 《神楽》KAGURA (2024) depicts the jovial motion of this tradition in her brush strokes. The custom’s connection to the unearthly is also referenced in the painting’s luminous tonality. These traditional Japanese myths have not often been referenced within Japan in the wake of World War II. Deployed as propaganda during the war, mythology in the country was then associated with toxic nationalism. Cut off from elements of their history, Yamashita and others of her generation have begun to revisit these stories, parsing them from their negative usage to better understand the currently overlooked pillars of the society in which they live. Yamashita says of the exhibition, “Rather than depicting a typical mythological scene, I wanted to create works that touch upon forgotten deities and the hidden history that has vanished from the center stage… Just as the title refers to the beginning of the country, I hope these paintings also signify the new beginning of a better world.” Hiroka Yamashita (b. 1991, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan) received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY and MFA from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. She currently lives and works in Okayama, Japan. Recent solo exhibitions include project N 84, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2021). Her work has been shown in group exhibitions including YES YOU CAN: The Strength of Life through Art, WHAT Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2022). - BLUM is pleased to present Quiet Inside, the gallery’s fourth solo exhibition with painter March Avery. With a selection of still lifes from the 1960s-2010s, this exhibition offers a glimpse into the artist’s mastery of color, hue, and spatial relationships. In these oil paintings variously portraying flowers and plants in vases, placed on tabletops, alongside animals, or growing from the earth, the New York-based artist celebrates the pleasures of domesticity, nature, and the everyday. Known for her intimate depictions of family members, her social circle, and the interpersonal moments that accumulate into a full life lived, March Avery has also prolifically documented the landscapes, interiors, and objects that surround these subjects. Just as the artist articulates a multitude in a portrait of a mother patiently reading to her child at bedtime, Avery’s still life of a forgotten boutonnière (The Groom's boutonniere, 2001) conjures meaningful narratives playing out just beyond the frame. In this painting that both alludes to what was and what is to come, the discarded floral decoration sits atop a coral surface, its stem reaching upward above a soft lilac background, a tuft of baby’s breath clinging to white and red carnations that are now wilted. Another work, Joe’s Lilies (1997), is a picture of a round, green vase housing white lilies situated adjacent to a backdrop of pale blue Venetian blinds. Avery’s composition zooms in on an insinuated larger tableau—perhaps a scene as ordinary as the slice she chose for this painting. The blinds, the vase, the lilies—all are unspectacular and quotidian forms that Avery poetically casts and elevates in careful combinations of pigments, creating for her viewers not only a vision, but a feeling. As critic John Yau notes: “This is Avery’s strength. Her use of color is not just descriptive; it conveys the sensuality of the moment.” With a subdued palette in Lilacs (1961), we see Avery’s use of simple interlocking forms exemplified; the heart-like sapphire leaves of the plant fit like puzzle pieces with the spongey purple flowering panicles. An abstract expanse of a milky, textured greenish gray is the background for this floral arrangement, a mixture of quiet hues that come together in one contemplative work. The first monograph published on the artist, March Avery: A Life in Color, will be released in conjunction with this exhibition. Documenting Avery’s practice of more than eighty years, the book features three newly commissioned texts by Johanna Fateman, Lynne Tillman, and John Yau, and some 200 images of Avery’s oil paintings, watercolors, and sketchbooks. Published by Black Dog Press in collaboration with BLUM Books and Larkin Erdmann, this volume will be available at BLUM Los Angeles or via March Avery (b. 1932, New York, NY) lives and works in New York, NY. Her work is represented in public collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME; Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages, Stony Brook, NY; Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ; New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, Woodstock, NY; among many others. Recent solo exhibitions include her first abroad—in London, Tokyo, and Zürich. Image: Maureen Dougherty, Women on the Rocks, 2024
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