Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Challenging Distinctions: New Work by Rebecca Campbell

[“Daddy Daughter Date” (2008), oil on canvas. “Sleep Walker” (2009), oil on canvas. “Charlie in Forest” (2009), oil on canvas.]

The second solo exhibition of new paintings by Los Angeles based artist Rebecca Campbell is up through December 5, 2009 at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe. Known for her bold, figurative paintings, in this show, Campbell explores the unconscious with surreal images challenging distinctions between representation and abstraction and reality and fantasy. The artist’s interest in crossing autobiographical subject matter with allegorical material—in drawing on experiences from her own life as well as images from her dreams—was the inspiration for this body of work. In describing the “organic” development of her creative process, Campbell writes that it “[evolves] into an experiment where the tangents and desires of the unconscious become my motivation. Happily, wading into the surreal enlarged my process into a poetic call and response.” By injecting childhood phantasm into quotidian rites and circumstances gave her a new perspective on both.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City—the youngest of seven children in a strict Mormon family—Campbell began to develop a critical eye to her surroundings and upbringing. She questioned the parameters of the church in which she grew up—particularly the role it ascribed to her gender. Refusing to bow to its pressures and demands for conformity, Campbell spent her teenage years developing her passion to make art and honing her techniques in sculpture, installation, painting, and drawing. She left Utah to study art and returned to Salt Lake City where she worked for a period as an independent exhibition curator.

Campbell develops her ideas by taking photographs of staged subjects, which she then proceeds to render as drawings or small studies before translating those images to larger canvases. Each painting is grounded in a single vibrant color that embodies the work from its very base. Upon this base Campbell juxtaposes thin washes of translucent colors: Thick impastos and sweeping brushstrokes build upon this composition.

The artist is a member of L.A. Art Girls, which has produced several collaborative projects such as: “Strange Love” (2005), a “remake” of Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove”; Total Art Performance Event (2006), a series of Fluxus-inspired performances; a radio show called “String Theory”; and “Overflow” (2008), a reinvention of “Fluids” (1967) by artist Allan Kaprow. While there are over 30 members of the L.A. Art Girls at this time, a lesser number participates in the collaborative projects on a self-selecting basis. Meanwhile, all members of the group pursue their own practices as contemporary artists and participate in meetings and studio visits as they choose. The group evolved from informal gatherings and studio visits, which started in 2004 as a means to encourage substantive discourse on contemporary art. Voluntary and nonhierarchical, L.A. Art Girls provides inspiration, support, dialogue, and feedback to one another.

New Works: Rebecca Campbell

Through December 5, 2009

@ Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe

525 West 22nd Street, NYC 10011

L.A. Art Girls

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