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Kira Shewfelt at Make Room

Kira Maria Shewfelt, Coup de grâce (After Conchita Cintrón), 2023.

Now showing at Make Room, The Yearlings by Kira Shewfelt is devoted to moments of becoming. In each painting, figures of lovers and children, horses and butterflies alike, convene, sharing touch or experience in scenes the artist describes as moments of “high transference and action”—  and so, touch is a relational reminder, a promise that we are bound together, interconnected through our relationships, with potential for becoming more. The exhibit runs through May 24, 2024

The artist’s gestures and marks are applied so honestly that parts of paintings are rendered nearly translucent. Thin washes of oil paint dapple across a worked and cared for surface and the effect of accumulated layering creates new spaces of depth and richness. Made bold and tender, swiftly with action as with repose, these canvases carry marks made through an extended process, holding intuitive making as dearly as the finish.

Kira Maria’s paintings dispense with artifice and caring too much about the wrong things. Intimacy is a holding, an embrace, a kiss, a touch, but it is also the incremental appearance and shedding of expectations— there is permission to be observed as we really are and to want for more. Intimacy, care, and affection verge close to the goals of art, a meditation on what intuitively moves us. Intimacy is so truthful— it is the personal made sublime, an ode to transformative experiences.

The artist’s generous treatment of natural scenes alludes to the efforts of 19th century Romanticism and expands themes of an individual’s relationship to awe and grandeur to encompass the personal and domestic. Amid these paintings of home, portraits of friends and lovers, and natural wonders, we experience splendor through color and gestural impressions. These artworks assign significance to the sensual, affective, and deeply connected, a testament to holding close spectacular moments, wherever we may find them.

Drawing imagery from an expansive archive, the artist’s references span cultural figures like the female matador Conchita Cintrón to autobiographical experiences, such as trips to Lake Tota in Colombia and horseback rides in December at the Michoacán butterfly sanctuary in Mexico. Dashes of color layered atop an image of lovers kissing call to mind visible supernovas, which Kira Maria has expressed as fascination with “the idea that stars are born and also die in moments of particulate friction”. For the artist, the personal can be a microcosm for the universal and understanding infinity can be as easy or challenging as knowing ourselves and relating to one another. Each point of contact imagines a momentarily shared reality.

Romantic hues imbue the natural world with perceptual wonder. The corporeal body is flexible, elastic, strong, and tender.  If color, light, the body, and touch are all mutable, so are the edges of the memory, dream, or images depicted. Sometimes in life, the more you wish for something, the more it becomes true, and so, with layered accumulations and veils of romantic color, the artist’s personal, visual incantations conjure the possibility of a new, intimate, and dream-like world.

The subconscious, now conscious, is the threshold where our dreams and reality collide and the artist effortlessly lets these boundaries blur. Each image is on the cusp of becoming.

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