February 07 - March 16, 2019
In her third Ceysson & Bénétière solo exhibition, New York City-based artist Lauren Luloff presents a rich body of work that furthers her exploration of plein air painting's temporal nature and the billowing, translucent and tactile qualities of fabric, especially hand painted and dyed silk. The exhibition, titled Reflections and Other Stories, is on view from February 07 through March 16, 2019 at the gallery's Paris location.
Luloff introduced representational imagery into her work in 2012, giving it a primary role by 2014. For her last show at Ceysson & Bénétière in 2017, Luloff included renderings of plants from New York City parks, featuring images of spruce and pine tree branches, hollyhocks, and other types of flora. Painted in the detailed spirit of botanical drawings, Luloff painted them by subtly and precisely bleaching out the pigment of existing textiles. She then glued the representational paintings within larger compositions that included color blocks of sheer synthetic material. With seams of adhesive and visible custom stretchers, Luloff's 2017 paintings continued her transparent approach to sharing a work's construction, arguably one aspect of the artist's ongoing renunciation of romantic notions of gestalt historically associated with painting.
With "Reflections and Other Stories," Luloff continues to communicate her studio practice with literal and figurative transparency. The exhibition reflects the artist's ongoing embrace of what Hyperallergic writer Rick Briggs described in 2012 as, "The risky openness of process that makes Luloff like the proverbial tight rope walker working without a net..." Combining this risk taking with the informed, grounded perspective of a mid-career artist, Luloff's newest body of work includes vibrant plein air paintings on silk that feature ponds and wooded areas from the U.S. and France. These paintings are typically sewn together with solid color blocks of hand dyed silk. Presciently, Luloff predicted her current direction to "Two Coats of Paint" contributor Eileen Jen Lynch, who wrote, "For the two-dimensional works, Luloff has considered sewing – with the recent purchase of new parts for her old sewing machine – which may, perhaps, lead to the use of different fabrics and the discovery of new narratives."
With the painted silk components in "Reflections and Other Stories," Luloff shifts from images of isolated botanical specimens to the dynamism of landscapes in their entirety. These representational paintings almost exclusively feature the reflective surfaces of two ponds or their surrounding scenery. Visiting a handful of locations many times over a period of months, Luloff worked quickly and attentively to capture moments in nature before they disappeared. A seasoned painter, Luloff is attuned to the magic of changing light and sees the landscape as being filled with "dramatic" changes. She notes the differences between a studio practice where an artist draws from their body, emotions or thoughts and plein air painting, declaring passionately, "Painting live is not about you, rather you obey what's in front of you with all its intricacies, surprises, and permutations."
The studio is still integral to Luloff's practice, and it is where these in situ silk paintings are incorporated into large-scale works that hang, hover or stand freely like sculpture. Many of the paintings on silk are mounted using minimalist custom metal mounts whose warm gold and unexpected shapes compliment the liveliness and process-centric nature of the works. Luloff describes her studio process in this show's artist statement, writing, " After these fulfilling excursions, I take the silk works back to my Brooklyn studio: steam setting the dye, washing, and ironing the silk. I often sew the landscape paintings into larger, more complex works, combining areas of pure color made from hand dyed silk. I love to accelerate the color sensations they emanate by adding large pieces of dyed silk to their borders. It's an exciting process, and with the luminous color and transparency of silk, the potential feels vast."
In Reflections and Other Stories much of the work simultaneously conjures flags, fashion, Impressionism, and Modernism. Yet, much like the paintings themselves, these familiar elements are combined from a fresh, feminist perspective that bucks any sense of nostalgia for painting's past, propelling the vast potentiality of Luloff's enterprise and the viewer experience solidly into the present moment.
Terri C. Smith
Ceysson & Bénétière
23 rue du Renard 75004 Paris