'Lauren Quin: Salon Real' is now on view at Blum & Poe
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'Lauren Quin: Salon Real' is now on view at Blum & Poe
Lauren Quin, Salon Real, 2023, oil on canvas, © Lauren Quin, Photo: Evan Walsh.

TOKYO .- Blum & Poe opened yesterday Salon Real, Los Angeles-based artist Lauren Quin’s second solo exhibition with the gallery and her debut in Japan. “Salon Real” is the opening sequence to a series of knots. One inferred meaning of this phrase connotes the original Paris Salons and the reactionary Salon d’Automne. These traditional exhibition forums united and established a throughline for the canonical discourse forged by generations of artists, Fernand Léger and Marcel Duchamp among them, whose influences have elliptically swayed pictures composed by Quin. Resisting a stable, fixed definition, the poetic word pairing conjured by the artist describes a method of determination through synchronicities. Self-aware as models for visual indulgence, the paintings—like the exhibition's title—scavenge, pluck, and layer symbols, forms, mediums, and gestures from throughout art history. Like a back-logged inventory of visual culture, imagery, styles, and colors are reinvented, layered, and combined to staggering effects.

Referencing and expanding this archive, Quin casts the vulture, a kindred spirit in scavenging, at the center of Salon Real. Scrounging at the remains of the history of painting, self-reflexive marks from a repertoire of found imagery are stacked again and again until, collectively, layer upon layer appear to mesh together, vibrating with the intensity of their own collective contrast. The molten depths of Salon Real activate and innovate on the abstract tradition. Formal paintings at first glance, these works are denotative to a point of abstraction. Uniting markings and imagery into her own visual vernacular, Quin unlocks a new language for the ineffable.

Balancing compositional weight and density throughout, the work’s concentration of experimentation and unknowability makes a box, like that of Schrödinger’s cat, an apt metaphor. Quin’s tube mark reappears as a mysterious container—unknowable, but cohesive. Either growing like limbs or clustered and abbreviated in scale-like gestures, Quin’s tube formations meditate on a shape that is simultaneously a tunnel and a hole, a structure and a space, or a mirage of presence carved out by absence.

The act of amassing symbols into obsolescence is at the core of Quin’s visual practice. The artist has long kept an expanding archive of found imagery and references—a hand holding water, an eye and its socket, a trembling cymbal. In Salon Real specifically, works repeat forms derived from a painting illustrating a cyclical myth in which a vulture eats immortal, renewing innards. Such elements from Tityos (1632) by Jusepe de Ribera are carved into and drawn through the back of works. Likewise, the works are informed by the darkness and bits of light in the Ribera, where the bird eating Titus is barely visible except for a shining glint of the eye and beak, which holds the organs of the god.

Throughout Salon Real, Quin plunges into the prismatic nature of visual and verbal expression, for example, how "kettling" can be used to describe vultures, corralling, or mocking. Kettling (2023) is titled for the composition’s swirling, circular current in relation to a grouping of vultures, called a “kettle,” that migrate together. Close dissection reveals the gestures housed within Kettling—fractured trails of ink; golden expanses of Quin’s “tears,” which form the composition’s negative spaces; the artist’s signature tube forms, which seem to gleam in metallic spectrums; crosshatching patterns made like blades of grass; and a moiré patterning that emerges through tiered applications of shadow. A yet-closer inspection of a painting of Quin’s reveals imagery that the artist has printed atop the layers below. This is shown well in Kettling, wherein the hand of Prometheus can be deciphered in the lower left quadrant of the canvas.

Horaltic Pose (2023) is named after the spread-wing stance that vultures take when soaking up sun. Horaltic Pose also sets the stage for Mock Orange (2023), titled after a night-blooming flower and teasing the footing of its color system. Mock Orange’s foundational layers are darker, whereas Horaltic Pose is backlit by white to imbue it with the brightness of the sun. Building on the painterly-kinetic vernacular of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) (1912), light and motion are hatched out. Horaltic Pose reveals itself in stages. First, one encounters the whole of the painting or, more specifically, the work’s gestalt—each mark contributing to an overall feeling that, in this case, resembles pulsating sonic radiance.

In keeping with the momentum of this exhibition, Solar Hole (2023) overlaps the artist's printing process until the surface is only ink, obscuring almost all oil paint. Jetting, floating, contrasting black ink evokes the feeling of staring at the sun, reaching optical overwhelm to the point of breaking down completely. Quin’s Salon Real is at once the sum of its references and a solution beyond them. By stacking luminous gestures upon one another until the order is lost, the artist’s marks build to become so resonant that one might be blinded to each by the magnitude of the many.

Quin's paintings enrapture their viewer, drawing onlookers into swirling sparks of light, letting the eye float through smelted vats of compositional pause, shooting back across the canvas with comet-like gestures, and, ultimately, connoting the moments that the artist has so meticulously culled. Rendered by carving out veins of electric colors from under layers of wet paint while also mono-printing bright ink through the canvases, glistens of light bounce throughout the work. The vibrating colors act as succinct reminders that white light is the culmination of the color spectrum.

Lauren Quin (b. 1992, Los Angeles, CA) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She holds an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions including her first US museum show My Hellmouth, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS (2023); Sagittal Fours, Pond Society, Shanghai, China (2022); and Pulse Train Howl, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA (2022).The first comprehensive monograph of her work, accompanying her solo show at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art will be released in the fall of 2023. Her work is held in numerous public collections, including the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China.

Blum & Poe, Tokyo
'Lauren Quin: Salon Real'
July 5th, 2023 – August 10th, 2023

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