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“Jolie Laide” at Life on Mars Gallery

September 11 – October 4, 2015 Opening reception: Friday, September 11, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Mandy Lyn Ford, Audiophile, 2015, gesso, acrylic, and super gel on canvas on wood panel, 11 by 9 inches

Life On Mars Gallery is proud to present Jolie Laide, a group exhibition of works by Alicia Gibson, Mandy Lyn Ford, Karen Schwartz, and Agatha Wojciechowsky. Jolie Laide is a non-gender specific French term meaning beautiful ugly, which is typically used to describe unconventional beauty. As the literary critic Daphne Merkin put it, jolie laide is “a triumph of personality over physiognomy, the imposition of substance over surface.”

Alicia Gibson represents a new generation of women painters; unafraid and unapologetic about using their personal lives to speak freely about the complex realities of being a woman in 21st century America. Her post-feminist punk stance continues and updates the traditions found in the work of Joan Snyder, Nancy Spero and Tracey Emin, among others, and speaks in a similar voice as Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer. Using the language of abstract expressionist painting and collage, often adding an autobiographical scrawl, she combines biting humor and aggression with an unbridled honesty about female sexuality.

Mandy Lyn Ford uses imagery of electronics, punk and ska posters, stained glass windows, and church architecture. She deconstructs the language of abstraction on hand-built, irregularly shaped wood panels; slathering on thick paint, bending it around the structures of her work, challenging the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Ford renews non-objective painting with fierce original beauty — sweet, violent, emotional, and filled with innuendo.

Karen Schwartz’s work draws upon a vocabulary of images that, while deeply personal, tap into a Jungian collective unconscious; maintaining a high wire juggling act between figuration and abstraction, between archetype and non sequitur. As the critic Thomas Micchelli writes, “The theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung begat Surrealism and Automatism, which begat Abstract Expressionism . . . Within the continuously unraveling and reknotted tapestry of art and psychology, materials and meaning, Schwartz’s work would seem to close one particular loop, in which ‘access to unformulated experience’ — the inchoate mass of emotions meeting the inchoate mass of paint — is processed through the knowledge and instincts of someone practiced in both, and who knows the limits of one over the other.”

Agatha Wojciechowsky was a well-known spiritual healer whose works of art were informed by her communication with the deceased. With no formal art education, she began making automatic drawings in the 1950s; first, letters of an indecipherable language, then boldly colored faces and figures in surrealist landscapes. Her work was featured in solo exhibitions in New York and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, and in group shows with Dubuffet, Duchamp, Man Ray, Noguchi, and Picabia. Her work defies easy classification. By combining the use of a flat pictorial space and vivid color with figurative imagery, Wojciechowsky pre-dates and predicts much of today’s most contemporary and cutting edge painting.

The artists in our exhibition share a wide-open emotional connection to their materials and subject matter that is not bound by any “school” of painting. Without regard for any pleasing or traditional sense of beauty, Gibson, Ford, Schwartz, and Wojciechowsky embrace and assault painting’s history, while building the language of its future.

Installation Images

Installation view of Jolie Laide, featuring work by Mandy Lyn Perez

Installation view of Jolie Laide, featuring work by Karen Schwartz

Installation view of Jolie Laide, featuring work by Mandy Lyn Perez, Karen Schwartz and Alicia Gibson

Installation view of Jolie Laide, featuring work by Alicia Gibson

Installation view of Jolie Laide, featuring work by Mandy Lyn Perez and Alicia Gibson

Installation view of Jolie Laide, featuring work by Mandy Lyn Perez and Alicia Gibson

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