November 02, 2017
Ceysson & Bénétière is proud to present The Evergreens, Lauren Luloff's third exhibition with the gallery and first in its New York location.
The exhibition features new paintings and wall-mounted ceramic works. Inspired by the natural oases that Luloff discovered near her Brooklyn home, the paintings combine exquisitely detailed drawings of plants, flowers, and trees; patterned fabrics that the artist hand paints with varying strengths of bleach, referencing traditional woodblock techniques she learned in Ajrakhpur, India; and translucent colored cloth. The ceramics’ spontaneous gestures and weighty forms provide a counterpoint to the paintings’ meticulous detail and ephemeral layers. While continuing Luloff’s explorations of nature versus culture, color versus line, mark-making versus found object, these works point to new and unexpected directions in her practice.
The exhibition takes its name from a nineteenth-century cemetery in Luloff's neighborhood, where she regularly goes to work and reflect. The paintings feature botanical drawings, in bleach on recycled bed-sheets, which she created in the cemetery or in a nearby community garden. In each place, the artist settles into a favorite corner of the grounds, and focuses on drawing selected plants over time. She notes, « Day after day I return to my tree or flower, racing against time if a flower is present and contending with the weather. In comparison to the rapidly morphing flowers, the Evergreens live forever. I can only get so much done each day before the complexity overwhelms me. »
In following the growth and withering of the plants, Luloff finds a connection to the changing seasons and the universal cycle of decay and regeneration, as well as an unexpected respite within the bustle of urban life. Luloff's ceramic works are both related to and stand in contrast with the paintings. With their delicate details and gossamer fabrics, the paintings appear fragile, but they are stronger than they look; and while the ceramics appear formidable and solid, making them requires a delicate touch, lest they break or collapse under their own weight.
All Luloff’s works are united by a concern with the elements: the paintings were made outside in the fresh air, the liquid bleach burning images into fabric, while the ceramics were made from earth itself, and forged by fire.
The Evergreens marks a transitional period in Luloff's own life when, after the birth of her first child, she was searching for the time and space both to make art and to process the emotional, physical, and practical demands of new motherhood. Working in and from nature provides her with what she describes as "a quiet and contemplative space where memories of situations or people become very present." The plants and trees she depicts during various stages and seasons reflect the simultaneous fragility and strength inherent in living things, as well as what she calls the "rawness, beauty, and brutality" of pregnancy and childbirth.
© Clara Blein-Renaudot & Lola Butstraen