Curated by Indra K. Lacis, PhD
Merging formal dexterity with nuanced approaches to race and gender and the experience of “living in the body,” Los-Angeles based artist Christina Quarles’ intimate drawings and lush canvases present worlds brimming with desire and discomfort, as well as profound suggestions about the psychological reach and physical limitations of mark-making. Drawn from two private collections, this unique exhibition at the Richmond Center features a pair of iconic paintings from the body of work that launched Christina’s career, as well as a suite of fifty drawings that create an unmistakable through-line from the artist’s earliest work to her present-day paintings. This will be the most expansive presentation of the artist’s drawings to date as well as her first major solo exhibition in the Midwest.
Magnetic and sensual, the figures that populate Quarles’ worlds portray the complexity of intersectional identity, transmitting subtleties of longing and dislocation at once. Characterized by bodies shifting between planes—emerging and disappearing at once, Quarles’ pen and ink drawings provide a sharp contrast to the dazzling, atmospheric light and the rich textures that dominate her paintings. In this suite of fifty Untitled drawings, Quarles’ mobilizes language to lay bare a range of emotions packed deftly into tender or sometimes slyly humorous contexts. Rich with references to love, loss, as well as pop culture, Quarles’ works pointedly investigate how abstraction and representation might relate to a sense of belonging, within and without. In her own words, Quarles has described her practice as follows: “The contradiction of my Black ancestry coupled with my fair skin, results in my place always being my displace. Throughout my paintings, there are perspectival planes that both situate and fragment the bodies they bisect—location becomes dislocation. Fixed categories of identity can be used to marginalize but, paradoxically, can be used by the marginalized to gain visibility and political power. This paradox is the central focus of my practice.”
As a Queer, cisgender woman who is Black but is often mistaken as white, CHRISTINA QUARLES engages with the world from a position that is multiply situated. Her work is informed by her daily experience with ambiguity and seeks to dismantle assumptions of our fixed subjectivity through images that challenge the viewer to contend with the disorganized body in a state of excess.
Christina Quarles (b. 1985 Chicago, IL) currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She received an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2016, and holds a BA from Hampshire College. Quarles was a 2016 participant at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture. Her current and forthcoming exhibitions include: Pilar Corrias, London (2018); Christina Quarles / MATRIX 271, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley (2018); Made in L.A., Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); It’s Gunna Be All Right, Cause Baby, There Ain’t Nuthin’ Left, Skibum MacArthur, Los Angeles (2017); No burden as heavy, David Castillo Gallery, Miami (2017); Trigger: Gender as a Tool and as a Weapon (New Museum, New York, NY); Fictions, The Studio Museum, New York (2017); Reconsitituion, LAXART, Los Angeles (2017) among others.
Opening reception & preview for lenders, exhibition partners, Richmond Center members and Frostic School of Art students: Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 5:00 – 7:00pm MyWMU.com/FriendsofRCVA