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Press Release

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Sarah Cain’s second one-person exhibition at the gallery. BOW DOWN opens on Friday, May 29, 2015 with a reception from 6-8pm.

Using the conventional ideas, means, and materials of painting, Sarah Cain has spent the last decade challenging these same conventions. Cutting, collaging, and expanding paintings beyond their boundaries, she pushes at what painting is and can be, opening spaces for us as viewers to follow her into new territories of abstraction. Exploring color, depth, scale, and emotion, Cain makes paintings on paper, canvas, objects, and walls. Though the scale of her work is at times architectural, Cain incorporates small found objects amid drawn and painted gestures. As a result, the visual experience of her work is immersive and is amplified by close looking. Cain describes her paintings as being like extensions of her body. In a symmetrical relationship, the viewer’s experience of her work is specific and expansive; it is both visual and bodily.

BOW DOWN will include a large painting made on site. For over a decade, Cain has been making ephemeral artworks that respond to the architecture that contains them as well as the context within which the architecture is situated. These works include gestures painted directly onto walls, floors, and ceilings and have incorporated furniture and other detritus found at the sites. Completely improvised, Cain’s site-specific paintings derive their power from the inherent risk of working within defined temporal and spatial constraints. The immediacy of this aspect of her practice provides balance for the more labored works that emerge from her studio.

Cain’s recent studio work evinces an evolution in form and restraint. While several of Cain’s new paintings pair repeated patterns or confined marks with bold gestures, they also feature objects that are an integrated part of the overall composition, at times standing in for and at others occluding painted marks. In three new works, Cain has combined painted canvases with found domestic furniture: a loveseat, a chest of drawers, and a vanity. Emerging from her use of objects in her paintings and her inclusion of found objects in her ephemeral site-specific works, these new painting-sculpture hybrids contrast monochromatic white and black areas with brightly-hued squiggles, splashes, stripes, and mazes and investigate what happens when a canvas and an object become a simultaneous and continuous surface for painting.

The title of the exhibition comes from the Beyoncé song “Flawless.” Originally released as “Bow Down,” Beyoncé created a second version that includes an excerpt from a talk delivered by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie entitled “We should all be feminists.” Beyoncé’s vision of weaving a measured, academic approach to contemporary feminism into an anthem generated controversy among music critics and feminist scholars alike. Working within the male dominated legacy of abstract painting, Cain’s insistence on the body within her work is an assertive, intentional confrontation of art history’s denial of femaleness, and Beyoncé’s song is a parallel gesture within the male dominated music industry. Her lyrics, “Bow down, bitches, bow bow down, bitches” is an aggressive—and for fans, inspiring and empowering—refrain. “Flawless” embodies the anger, exuberance, politics, and sexuality that Cain pours into her work.

Sarah Cain was born in Albany, New York in 1979 and lives in Los Angeles. She received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2001 and a MFA from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. Sarah Cain: blue in your body, red when it hits the air is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego through July 19, 2015, and a one-person exhibition featuring a 4,000 square foot original work on site will open at the Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, North Carolina in the fall of 2015. Cain’s work has been included in exhibitions such as Variations: Conversations in and around Abstract Painting, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2014); Now-ism: Abstraction Today, Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH (2014); I was a double, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2014); Outside The Lines, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (2013); Painting in Place, Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), Los Angeles, CA (2013); PAINT THINGS: beyond the stretcher, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA (2013); Made in L.A., Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Gold, Imperial Belvedere Palace Museum, Vienna, Austria (2012); Nothing Beside Remains, LAND: Marfa, Marfa, TX (2011); Two Schools of Cool, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2011); 2008 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2008); SECA Art Award Exhibition, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (2007); and Like Color in Pictures, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO (2007).

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