Surprised by Joy
An exhibition featuring sculpture by Claire Loder and works by Ariane Vielmetter
September 14 - October 11, 2019
About the artists
For over a decade Claire Loder has been making bodiless heads that, through the eyes, explore the interior world of their subject. Memory, contemplation and melancholy are perpetual undercurrents. Narrative plays a significant role in her work: spoken and written language and the transgressive role of comedy offer up many starting points. This is the framework, around which are woven themes that come and go.
In the last two years, Claire's childhood on a windy paper flat plot in East Anglia is pushing its way through the concrete of her city existence. In 2017 she devised and established a community gardening festival on the estate where she lives in order to explore the links between growing and creativity. This work has given her a new perspective on her practice - the clay and earth and seeds are coalescing.
Ariane Vielmetter’s work uses the conventions of still life and trompe l’oeil painting as a way to explore the image-making process and realism’s ability to convey both plausible fictions and uncanny truths. She draws from a variety of source materials, ranging from re-purposed studio scraps and unfinished drawings, to specimens collected from her compost pile and garden, anthropological illustrations, and works by artists and writers who have been historically overlooked or underestimated.
Several of her drawings prioritize a “birds eye view” of her subject matter, which she arranges to echo the compositions of historical still life paintings. Among the works referenced for this body of work are an ancient Greek mosaic of an unswept floor, a still life of cherries on view at the Norton Simon Museum, the “forest floor” paintings of the Dutch master Rachel Ruysch, and the stark depictions of cacti and succulents by Neue Sachlichkeit painter Georg Scholz.
She adapts these source images to the flora of the Southern California landscape, focusing on plants and specimens that are culled from her backyard. She often looks to materials that are decidedly not precious, are close at hand, and that change with passage of time. She re-purposes remnants of older drawings, detritus from her daily life, and utilitarian materials and objects from her surroundings that bear the traces of past uses. The idea of squeezing one last function out of a used object, or of reviving something that has been cast aside or overlooked, is a driving impulse in much of her work.