BRENNA YOUNGBLOOD: A PHRASE THAT FITS
March 3 – April 19, 2014
Reception: Monday, March 3, 6 – 8 pm
Tilton gallery is delighted to present A Phrase that Fits, an exhibition of new paintings by
Brenna Youngblood from March 3 to April 19, 2014. A reception for the artist will be held
Monday, March 3rd, 6 – 8 pm.
In Youngblood’s newest body of work, this Los Angeles-based artist continues her
exploration of the delicate juncture between abstraction, illusion and the concrete object.
Seen as a totality, this is her most lyrical, abstract and painterly exhibition to date. However
each individual work remains grounded in some tie to reality, whether it be through a single
collaged object, the inclusion of an illusionistic flat image, a shape painted so thickly that it
takes on an object-like presence on top of the painted canvas surface, or the framing and
mounting of a canvas that brings a work that is clearly a painting into the realm of sculpture
Youngblood’s early work centered on the use of photography. She made photographs that
were simultaneously surreal and conceptual, and then used photos as images incorporated
into sculptural, rough, almost awkward, painted works that were perhaps the 21st century
descendants of earlier Los Angeles assemblage by artists as disparate as Noah Purifoy, John
Outterbridge and Edward Kienholz. Over recent years, these have evolved into ever more
beautiful paintings, more reliant on painterliness, though still almost always incorporating
photographic images and the materiality of collaged objects. Simultaneously, the works
have become less grounded in realism and the specificity of the image and more about the
abstract work as a whole, where the image is used as much for its material, shape and color
as for its referential role.
This evolution in the role collage plays in Youngblood’s work parallels that of an artist such
as Mark Bradford. Both began making urban collages of materials intimately associated
with their personal histories and moved ever further towards a wider discussion about
painting and object making.
Youngblood’s newest works remain layered and visually complex in meaning as well as in
the process of their construction. She includes layers of paper, photos (one under resin),
wall paper, contact paper (like that used to line kitchen drawers), and faux wood as well as
distinct objects: found plastic shapes, wood, the lid of a tin can, paper doilies and a
treeshaped air freshener. Repeatedly, Youngblood takes something representational
and abstracts it, while, always interested in a multiplicity of meanings, allowing it
to retain emotional vestiges of its former life.
Youngblood’s work comments on the history of the still life in painting, veering from the
reproduction of a fruit still life in one work to -- literally --- the kitchen sink in another. The
mechanically reproduced image co-exists with the handmade and, these days, is absorbed
into the gestural painter and poetry of the whole. The artist consistently finds the sweet
spot between the rough and the soft, the opaque and the light infused, the flat and the
scumbled, constructivist structure and lyrical painterliness, representation and abstraction.
Brenna Youngblood was born in 1979 and 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 the Contemporary Arts
Museum Houston and Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis in 2014. Solo exhibitions
include those at Honor Fraser, Los Angeles, Galerie Natialia Obadia, Brussels, Susanne
Vielmetter Berlin Projects and Margo Leavin, Los Angeles.