Linda Geary, Everything Comes from Something, Only Something Comes From Nothing, 100+ paintings, various sizes, acrylic and oil on panel 2012-2016
Laura Rokas, Linda Geary & Sofie Ramos
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 10th, 2016, 6:00pm – 9:00pm Exhibition Dates: December 10th – January 7th, 2017
In his 2004 essay, Hal Foster identifies and welcomes an “archival impulse” at work in contemporary art, describing it as “an idiosyncratic probing into particular features, objects and events in modern art, philosophy and history.” Found, factual and public elements mingle with the constructed, fictive and personal to allow for non-hierarchical fragmentation of information and ideas and unexpected juxtapositions, revealing and creating alternative narratives, logics, and interpretations of past and present, however incomplete and illogical. The works of Laura Rokas, Linda Geary and Sofie Ramos find common ground in the role of the archive as a foundation for painting. From Geary’s library of cutouts sawed from paintings on panel serving as inspiration for new paintings and as an extension of painting in their own right, to the collection of symbols and figures that continually haunt the strange world found in the work of Laura Rokas, to the repository of texturally distinct everyday objects that Sofie Ramos pulls from to create immersive installation-based paintings – the archive is an integral space for reflection, collection and creation at the heart of each artist’s practice.
The work of Laura Rokas is woven from a quirky visual vernacular that intermixes a passion for cycling, the idealism of the California landscape, and an iconography of luck and providence. Working across disciplines, for Rokas material serves as a space for play, deception and transgression. The materiality of low and high are constantly under question, as saturated worlds of cardboard models are rendered in smooth oil paint, textile “paintings” are made from acid-washed denim and individually embroidered patches mirroring those of the machine-made iron on variety, and ceramic sculptures set on a bed of fake fur imitate the cardboard models used in her painting practice. The artist’s hand—that precious resource and final linkage from brain to body to material—becomes both an avatar for the viewer as well as a source of content in its own right, reperforming the act of painting within the space of the painting. In Rokas’s world, that hand is made from cardboard, is painting a crude portrait of an idealized rose, and features an oversized set of perfectly painted bright red fingernails.
Over the past few years, Linda Geary has taken to documenting the exuberantly painted houses of West Oakland and anonymous textile designs from the 1890s—a seemingly disparate pairing that are both swiftly disappearing. Inspired by material processes of transformation and reinvention, Geary has begun cutting up previous paintings on panel, harkening to the massive 1970s building cuts of defunct Bronx tenements by Gordon Matta Clark, yet at a scale and intent more disposed to that of a painter. The cuts have allowed Geary to quickly explore new ideas, while simultaneously confronting the history of abstraction alongside that of sewing and women’s work. While these cuts have generally stayed sequestered in the studio as elements through which to envision and compose new paintings, her site-specific installation for this exhibition sees an exploration of the fragment itself, using the architecture of the gallery space to create a massive installation blurring painting and sculpture. This new work allows Geary to assume a multitude of roles: from the creator of the original painting, to the destroyer through the process of its dissection, to a kind of community organizer finding harmony and balance through the reorganization of form and color in space.
No stranger to installation-based painting, Sofie Ramos’s work conflates the three-dimensional arrangement of objects in space within the two-dimensional composition of a traditional painting. A challenge to the singular or autonomous art object, Ramos’s installations are in a process of constant evolution and recombination, placing the weight of meaning in the sum of processes of making and remaking over that of a finished state or resolved composition. Born from a relentless practice of hoarding, archiving, altering and synthesizing objects in her studio—just as Geary’s work sources new compositions from her library of cuts—Ramos’s material archive provides a disparate palette of shapes, colors, patterns and textures from which to pull. Seen in the context of a gallery, there is an unbridled quality to the artist’s work, as if while we weren’t looking the medium had sought to expand its territories, pausing momentarily only to continue once our backs have turned again. Garish hues of house paint are layered upon the everyday object, highlighting the idiosyncrasies of the mundane item as we find it at home in an unfamiliar visual space, while hits of spray paint transfer from surface to surface with ease, enmeshing unlike objects into a coherent visual plane. For Ramos the goal is not so much to create a harmonious composition or environment, but rather to facilitate and record the interaction between the space, the materials and the artist.