BRENNA YOUNGBLOOD: AFFECTION
FEBRUARY 23RD – APRIL 15TH, 2017
OPENING RECEPTION FEBRUARY 23RD, 6 – 8 PM
Tilton Gallery is delighted to present Affection, an exhibition of new paintings by Brenna Youngblood, from February 23rd through April 15 , 2017. A reception for the artist will be held Thursday, February 23rd, from 6-8pm. This is the Los Angeles-based artist’s third solo show with the gallery.
In this body of new work, Youngblood reflects on themes of love and loss through her signature multidisciplinary practice that incorporates collage, photography, and referential imagery into her mixed media abstract paintings. Through the inclusion of found objects and photographs from the artist’s personal archive, familiar elements from everyday life become decontextualized and isolated. Each painting’s surface becomes a landscape precisely created through color and texture to bring these isolated quotidian elements into new focus, as their formal elements become the basis for each abstract composition.
Youngblood’s surfaces vary from loose, thinly applied washes, lyrical in feel, to gritty, textured paint, full of substance and emotion. Collaged elements are at times embedded, rising from within the physicality of the paint and at other moments seem to float upon the surface. In all cases, this integration of figuration and abstraction (figuration within abstraction) conveys poetic meaning, skirting the literal to create a sense of emotional place. Conceptually perhaps a kindred spirit to her teacher at UCLA, John Baldessari, Youngblood’s visceral approach and often gentle touch draws these works more into the history of abstract American painting.
Unchained depicts a chain link fence emerging from a burst of color, as washes of greens, blues, yellows and reds radiate from behind the lines that form this fence that has been an ongoing motif in Youngblood’s oeuvre. What could be a harsh subject becomes an elegant linear drawing, a line of poetry. Applied directly to the canvas from the paint tube, many links are left disconnected, and the opening in the center implies a way through the barrier.
In Popcorn and Flowers, a lampshade has been cut out of a photograph and affixed to the top center of the primarily white canvas, which becomes a mock interior scene. Flower shapes, also collaged photographs, are spread out beneath the lampshade, implying floral wallpaper, while actual collaged wallpaper, heavily embossed with a floral pattern, bubbles up from under the paint surface. Painterly brown washes drip down from the center of the composition, indicating this interior is in a state of deterioration.
Uncle Grandpa depicts a pickup truck, balanced at the apex of a triangular mountain, almost split in two, one half on each side. This split image could be read as a metaphor for the precarious moment when one reaches the top of an upwards climb (of a physical endeavor, a social climb or a psychological attempt to attain a goal) and one reaches the top and is “split in half,” aware of the potential to slide right back down. Youngblood’s frequent use of the triangle, usually perceived as a flat shape, or a facet of a diamond, was originally inspired by the corner of a room and here allows the painting to morph and be simultaneously seen in perspective.
Youngblood employs objects, at once mundane and personal, to imply potential meaning: The closed drawer in Living in a Drawer appears symbolic of privacy, the imagining of hidden personal secrets. And in I Want to See You, a painting about obsession, bright red and white targets (collages of the Target logo) pierce a lyrical grey abstract painting.
Through varied methods of abstraction, Brenna Youngblood’s layered works reveal how man-made objects and environments become a part of our biographies, even as we wear them down. Humor and plays on words suggest a multiplicity of meaning, but each work retains a quality that rests between the nostalgic and the elegiac.
Brenna Youngblood, born in 1979 in Riverside, California, received her BFA from California State University, Long Beach in 2002 where she studied with Todd Gray and her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006 where she studied with John Baldessari, Catherine Opie and James Welling. She has exhibited widely and her work has been included in museum exhibitions such as Made in L.A., the Los Angeles Biennial organized by the Hammer Museum and LA><Art and Fore at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, both in 2012; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2013 and 2016-2017; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2014; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta and Art + Practice, Los Angeles in 2016. Youngblood will be included in upcoming exhibitions at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Massachusetts and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri in 2017. Solo exhibitions have taken place at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis in 2014, and at the Seattle Art Museum and Pomona College Museum of Art in 2015.