Thursday, 22 December 2016

Laura Owens:Snails, emojis, gloves, and no geometry.

The recent Laura Owens exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ on Kingly Street was the first time I've ever been asked to don a pair of gloves to inspect an artist's work. It was to leaf through a rather large selection of Laura's books they had and, pleasant though they were, the gloves seemed rather unnecessary.

Laura was born in 1970 in Euclid, Ohio. Not far from the much larger Cleveland. Euclid was named for the Greek mathematician and father of geometry though there's little mathematical or geometrical about Laura's work. In fact she seems to allow herself a very free hand indeed. She doesn't seem to be restrained by one style, changing from work to work, and, often, within a single piece.

The works hanging in the Sadie Coles are given numbers instead of names (maybe that's the only nod to Euclid himself!) and there's very little info about them either so it's simply a case of wandering around and taking as much of it in as possible. Traditional oil paint mixes with screen printed images digitally photoshopped.

Some work better than others. I really like the greens used in the below work. They hint at a warm rural idyll. Sometimes it's the juxtaposition of works with each other that catches the eye and I've included a few of them for your perusal below.

In the same room as the books (and the gloves) there's both a film of a snail which is, probably aptly, very slow moving and these little Ping-Pong balls/emojis with silly faces drawn on them. They're a bit pointless really and it's not like the room is in any further need of decoration.

One thing I enjoyed was her riff on Robert Rauschenberg's combines. Paintings with sculptural elements attached. Best of all being a wheel attached to this typically colourful large wall mounted piece. I was less keen on the appearance of Garfield the cat as he's never done a lot for me.

But what did it all mean? To be honest I've absolutely no idea but it was a pleasant lunchtime art blip and I very much enjoyed walking around taking it all in. I'd go see her work again and, next time, some explanation would be nice. Or maybe that would ruin the experience?

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