Brandi Twilley's 'Crest Foods' opens at Sargent's Daughters

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Brandi Twilley's 'Crest Foods' opens at Sargent's Daughters
Brandi Twilley, You Take One Bite Out of an Apple, 2022, Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sargent’s Daughters is presenting Crest Foods, an exhibition of new work by Oklahoma City-based painter Brandi Twilley. For Twilley’s fourth solo presentation with the gallery, she created a series of over forty small-scale oil paintings that both document and reinterpret her time working at the titular Crest Foods, a local grocery store chain in Oklahoma. These intimate works depict the difficult realities of working class life while also allowing flashes of beauty and transcendence to break through.

In 2003, Twilley returned home from college in Boston to Oklahoma to recover from severe depression and insomnia. After a fire at her family’s rural home, which was the second fire to destroy a family residence, they relocated to Midwest City and Twilley took a job as a cleaner at the Crest Foods, where her three brothers would also go on to work. Reflecting on this time in her life, Twilley writes, “At 7 a.m. I cleaned the bathrooms and then swept and mopped the aisles of the store. The best part was that I was left alone, working and thinking without any interruptions. As a result I had time to observe and contemplate those around me, my coworkers and the customers. I was moved by the way their hard lives showed in their faces and bodies.” In her free time, Twilley made sketches of the store, her brothers, and her coworkers.

Twilley returned to these sketches over time, and while living in New York in 2020, began producing this body of work. However, after becoming ill with Lyme disease, she once again moved home to Oklahoma to recover and rest. The unfinished paintings traveled with her and were completed while she recovered, ironically in proximity to Crest Foods once again. For Twilley, this body of work has become a tool for understanding the cycles of loss and renewal that she has experienced, mirrored over time. The exhibition of the works coincides with a return to health and a reentry into the world for the artist herself.

Twilley’s paintings employ her masterful use of oil paint to produce images that range from darkly humorous, to strangely beautiful, to hauntingly sparse. Wide, sunset-streaked skies transform parking lots into contemplative vistas, while sensitive portraits of her co-worker's faces evoke difficult lives lived. While many of these portraits are invented likenesses based on memory, a few depict the artist and her brothers. Each image could be a snapshot, as it centers the artist’s gaze and perspective on her subjects, yet her delicate brushwork grants an unreal luminosity to even the price tags and cleaner’s cart. In this way, the application of paint operates like layers of the artist’s memory, both preserving and transforming her subject matter. In Crest Foods, the viewer is allowed to look at the past through the lens of Twilley’s present, refracted through hardship and healing.

Brandi Twilley (b. 1982, Oklahoma City, OK) lives and works in Oklahoma City, OK. She has recently exhibited at Charles Moffett (New York, NY), Josh Lilley (London, UK), Zero Gallery (Milan, Italy), Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY) and The Museum of Sex (New York, NY). Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, ARTFORUM, ARTnews, The Art Newspaper, The New Yorker, Artnet News, Time Out, The Observer, and Hyperallergic, among other publications. She received her MFA from Yale University in 2011 and is represented by Sargent’s Daughters. Crest Foods is her fourth solo presentation with the New York gallery.

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