CLOSE, Not Too Close
September 8 – October 14, 2023
As part of her debut solo show on the West Coast, 89-year-old, British artist Rose Wylie offers seemingly arbitrary, yet insightful arrangements, which can read as a kind of daily diary in visual form. This eccentric collection of intimate works, CLOSE, Not Too Close is presented at David Zwirner’s newly opened Los Angeles location.
The exhibit features oil paintings and numerous pencil, colored pencil, and collage drawings (all from 2021-2023), the latter drawings serving as preliminary blueprints to the larger scale, painted versions. Based on direct observations, and often tinted with satire, these images create a deeper dialogue about society at large. Themes of celebrity culture, consumerism, and domestic existence are conveyed through impasto textures, broad sweeps, and scribbles, which overlap and converse with one another.
Pink News Reader, 2022
Uniquely, the “fourth wall” appears to have been broken down, wherein textual clues about the artist’s thought process during execution stages are included among the subject matter. These little notes, often referring to initial color selections and compositional relationships, guide the audience through a time lapse, in which those beginning stages literally merge with the end result.
The artist’s own red brick, 17th century house is featured in several of the works, like a springboard from which we may glimpse the occurrence of other scenarios. White Building curiously shows Wylie’s home paired next to another, similarly shaped white structure, which, surmised from painted phrases, is that of an El Paso Bank featured in an old western film. The accompanying texts, or rather, “film notes,” offer revealing leads such as “Sergio Leone”, “The Colonel,” “Clint Eastwood,” and “Nod to Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles.” Surrounding this composition are a cluster of red rifles and green dollar icons in the corners, as no classic western would be complete without a robbery of some kind.
A Hand to Hold the Paper Down
In HAND, Drawing as Central, the picture of glamour is humorously deconstructed through methodical explanations. This oil painted triptych shows a series of hands with bedazzling rings and painted nails, and surrounding those, evidence of the private brainstorming session and techniques used for rendering these hands. The central panel is additionally found in drawing form in,A Hand to Hold the Paper Down. Together, these works emphasize the artist’s process of depicting a hand, first in its bare form, and then gloved, with cryptic study notes such as “Shadow from the sun,” “A hand to hold the paper down (while rubbing out),” “Flashing Ring, Red Nail Varnish.” Choosing just the right shade of red is, of course, paramount to making a lasting impression, hence the artist’s studious procedure to arrive at such conclusions.
Spindle and Cover Girl
Additional analyses of Wylie’s impressions include things such as magazine covers, yoga poses, and flowerpots, to name a few. It seems the artist has managed to expose the absurdities of everyday lifestyle and culture through the coexistence of banal, close-range details and the out of reach, abstract hype imparted by the media. Likewise, we are granted an obscure peephole into the artist’s own surroundings – close, but not too close.
Cover image: HAND, Drawing as Central, 2022; All works © Rose Wylie. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.