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Rebecca Campbell at L.A. Louver

Rebecca Campbell, In Between, 2024.

L.A. Louver is presenting recent paintings by the Los Angeles- based artist Rebecca Campbell. Entitled Young Americans, this exhibition captures an inexplicable magic and complexity in converging metaphors of adolescence and the city of Los Angeles: rich and knotty symbols of the interstice between fantasy and reality. Including paintings created in 2023 and 2024, the presentation illustrates Campbell’s integration of theoretical investigation, psychic exploration and formal invention through her signature virtuosic style. The exhibition dates runs from 29 May to 20 July 2024 with an opening reception on Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 6 – 8 p.m.

The largest painting in the exhibition, Greenhouse (2023) (96 x 144 inches) offers an introduction to this new body of work. Set within a scene of Campbell’s current home, the artist’s three children are situated throughout the house, experiencing the world from different perspectives. However personal, this is not a world removed from our own; the viewer is painted from the balcony and thus called into subjecthood. Cryptic translations of the surrounding landscape into thickly troweled slabs of abstracted paint signal an irrepressible inner world made visible, engaging viscerally and intellectually with the legacies of expressionism, and feminist critique.

Symbolism is deftly wielded by Campbell throughout the exhibition, demonstrated by the two portraits Where Have You Been My Blue-Eyed Son? (2023) and In Utero (2023), which voice the polarities of teenage volatility. One depicts a rain- laden poppy, strong and vibrant despite its delicacy. The other is an archetypal image of a teenager, cross-legged in a Nirvana band tee with a face both hopeful and challenging. Each an image of the beguiling energy and tenuous balance of this vulnerable period of life, Campbell expresses tension and growth through the scale of the central figures in relation to their square frames.

Los Angeles parallels teenagerhood throughout the exhibition as a place of precarity, excesses, opportunity, fear, and multiple realities. Depicting a scene outside of the city, Hollywood is a Sign (2023) holds an amalgam of illusions and truths stereotypical of L.A. The cerulean pool – an unnatural feature in the desert
– offers a rich metaphor for the beauty, spiritualism, and artificiality echoed throughout the painting. In Between (2024) evokes a similar pull between fantasy and reality as two girls, each clothed in a sumptuous red gown (the artist’s own wedding dress), convey curiosity and anxiety in a secluded world overlooking the distant skyline of downtown Los Angeles.

The image of an ecstatic and impasto-ed lemon tree in California Love (2023) is another elucidation of the paradoxical nature of L.A. Surrounded by a garden of other flourishing non-native plants, it is an image from the artist’s backyard from a time during the pandemic when the skies were vibrantly hued by the wildfires in Southern California – a beautiful and aberrant sight. The esoteric figures of Wolf Moon (2024) and Wolf Moon II (2024) present an otherworldly experience of a different kind as cryptograms akin to tarot cards. Emblematic of Campbell’s persistent theoretical inquiry into the perceiver / perceived dynamic, the figures are occluded and protected by veil or shadow.

The eponymous Young Americans paintings engage with and build upon previous series of portraits that Campbell has created throughout her career. The subject of this collection is her children and their friends, the representatives of our future in closely observed vignettes, navigating adolescence in a world of extraordinary uncertainties. Already changed from the time of these portraits, these young Americans each encapsulate the nostalgia, inspiration, unfolding and anticipation of this body of work. Campbell accomplishes a transcendent task in these paintings, demonstrating not only masterful technical prowess but also the ability to convey universal ideas through individual experience.

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