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parrasch heijnen Presents Lois Dodd | Ellen Siebers

Left: Lois Dodd, Apple Tree In Bloom - May, 2021. ©Lois Dodd, courtesy of Alexandre, New York; Right: Ellen Siebers, december at 4pm, 2024. ©parrasch heijnen, Los Angeles.

parrasch heijnen will present Lois Dodd | Ellen Siebers, a cross-generational exhibition of recent works by Maine- and New York City-based painter Lois Dodd and new works by Hudson, NY-based painter Ellen Siebers. Lois Dodd | Ellen Siebers runs from June 1 through July 3, 2024 with an opening reception Saturday, June 1, 6-8 pm.

Lois Dodd (b. 1927, Montclair, NJ) is known for her potent paintings, made en plein air, of the natural world – most often of specimens encountered throughout her Mid-Coast Maine property. In Dodd’s works, trees and branches are framed against the sky, cutting and darting across tonal grounds (Elm Tree in December, 2020); flowering plants stand at attention in bud and bloom (Mayberry, 2023 and Apple Tree in Bloom – May, 2021); seed pods and pine cones are depicted at close range, a study of their natural geometries (Dried Pods, 2022 and Pine Cone, 2023). The artist’s long-term pursuit of beauty is depicted in each work through a series of the quick-succession decisions necessitated by her single sitting, plein air methodology.

Dodd’s palette is fantastical, barely: each image seems to be rendered to express what she feels as much as what she sees during her deeply observational process. In a 2007 conversation with Bill Maynes, Dodd described her experience employing this strategy, “Not everybody seems to see the world that they’re living in… and it’s such a kick, really seeing things.” Impossibly fluorescent greens, luminous mauve, and porous aqua resonate in a harmonious evocation of the richness, the lushness, of the living world. Dodd’s paintings, encapsulations of a painter’s view of her world, put plain beauty on full display.

Ellen Siebers (b. 1986, Madison, WI) makes highly atmospheric, evocative paintings, with an eye, too, toward life, nature, and quotidian phenomena. In Siebers’ works and process, memory plays a central role; rather than employing a strict plein air strategy, as Dodd does, Siebers’ paintings are often descriptions of scenes or experiences which she studied and reflected upon at length. Siebers has described this process as one which demands practice: looking and seeing – two related but distinct acts – come before rehearsing and testing her memory, all in anticipation of returning to the studio to develop and render her paintings.

In works like dusk, 2024, a J.M.W. Turner-esque image of a glowing sun setting over its own reflection, Siebers’ palette calls to mind a recollection of a vista; Payne’s grey and burnt umber set the dusky stage, and a raw sienna orb floats downward, toward its counterpart below.

Much as in Dodd’s works, Siebers’ paintings call a feeling to mind. In plums, 2024, cool light illuminates round fruits on an indeterminate surface, recalling the preciousness of stone fruit before spring’s arrival – a balm, and reminder of anticipated plentitude, in the barren winter months. Similarly, two moths, 2024, uses strategies of illumination – imagine a candle, excluded in Siebers’ framing, brightening the forms from below, as in Georges de la Tour’s baroque works; and, above, consider the rich, warm, evening light, “magic hour,” – to evoke a sensation of awe. Siebers’ unique, trademark mode of painterly looseness, most readily visualized by conspicuous brushstrokes and striations of her brushes’ fibers, allows a viewer a moment’s glimpse into the pull of her forearm or flick of her wrist through the developing image, wrought with feeling engendered by the distance of observational memory.

As Siebers considers her long standing appreciation for Dodd’s works and practice, she notes that “Observation gives way to the importance of each brush stroke, in devotion to process.” Lois Dodd and Ellen Siebers undeniably share a mutual interest in not just the fundamentals of painting but the beauty of their earthly surroundings. With an eye toward this affinity, Siebers has noted: “The impulse to create work that relates to the concept of beauty has at times felt vulnerable. Unlike historically male counterparts, when a woman is interested in beauty it is often linked to femininity or sentimentality…. However, historically when they are tied to women artists, those concepts lack intellectual rigor. For me, [Lois Dodd’s] work challenges this, never paying it any mind. This helped inspire me to consider the idea of beauty as a serious conceptual conceit.”

To that end, in both Dodd’s and Siebers’ works, images of life – animal, vegetable, mineral – are rendered, often transforming the quotidian into something extraordinary. At the root, both Ellen Siebers and Lois Dodd are engaged with and participating in the millenias-long tradition of their media. Their works revel in the possibility of beauty and visual poetry – and the capacity to depict a fleeting experience or sensation – in each lived moment.

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