Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Brenna Youngblood’s third exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition will be on view January 16 through March 5, 2016 with a reception for the artist on January 16 from 6-8pm.
Exploring the materials and techniques of painting, photography and collage, Brenna Youngblood flirts with the narrative potential of abstraction by combining mediums within the picture plane. Often conveyed via simple compositions, Youngblood’s ideas about the documentary capacities of both painting and photography emerge bit by bit from her elaborately layered and textured surfaces. Like palimpsests of meditations on the human condition, the paintings raise existential questions: What is the nature of desire, of fear? What does it mean to have a body? How do we reckon with mortality?
By incorporating her own photographs and using found images and objects as collage materials within her paintings, Youngblood acknowledges the space of painting as such, asserting the canvas as both an object in its own right and a space within which images are presented and meaning is created. From the thinnest wash of pigment to thick impasto to scumbled hues, Youngblood’s paint is alternately assertive and shy, layered with collage elements that compete for attention. Her union of painting and photography challenges both the status of painting and photography’s claims to veracity. Embracing the tradition of bricolage, Youngblood’s canvases often exceed their limits: Collaged paper buckles up from a surface; paint extends from the picture plane onto a wooden artist’s frame; found signs, grocery bags or even architectural elements like duct vents blend seamlessly into her compositions.
On large double canvases, Youngblood uses repetition to create an expansive visual field. Her canvases of brightly hued, stenciled images (dollar signs and air freshener trees are common in her vernacular) connect her paintings to both Abstract Expressionism (in their non-hierarchical, all-over compositions) and Pop (with their acid colors and familiar images) while remaining rooted in the present tense. As an ongoing series, the paintings posit a doubling down on the repetitive impulse. Despite the repetition of the image, the method Youngblood uses to apply the paint assures that no two stenciled images (and therefor no two paintings) are exactly alike, suggesting the concept of a social body in which each individual is both herself and a member of a community.
Youngblood is the 2015 recipient of the Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Prize. The one-person exhibition commemorating the award is now on view at the Seattle Art Museum through April 17, 2016.
Brenna Youngblood was born in Riverside, California and lives in Los Angeles. Youngblood received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from California State University, Long Beach in 2002 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006. Honor Fraser Gallery has presented two exhibitions featuring Youngblood’s work to date: The Mathematics of Individual Achievement (2011) and Activision (2013). One-person exhibitions of her work have been presented at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2015); Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA (2015); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO (2014); Wignall Museum, Rancho Cucamonga, CA (2007); and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2006). Her work has been included in thematic exhibitions such as Hard Edged, California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2015); Selections from the Permanent Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2014); Rites of Spring, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (2014); Murmurs: Recent Contemporary Acquisitions, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2013); Fore, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2012); Made in L.A., Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Unfinished Paintings, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA (2011); With You I Want to Live, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL (2009); and California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2008).