September 12 - October 17, 2009
Artist's Reception: September 12, 2009, 6-9pm
Show Catalog (pdf, 2.73 Mb)
Charlie James Gallery is proud to present Libby Black in a solo show at the gallery from September 12 to October 17, 2009. Ms Black is an established star on the Bay Area art scene; she gained significant notoriety in 2005 for her installation of a Kate Spade store at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, replete with shoes, shoeboxes, handbags and presentation shelves all composed of paper, acrylic paint, and hot glue. Since then she has been a perennial fixture in art fairs and in solo and group shows at Marx & Zavattero in San Francisco, and around the country.
For her LA solo debut, Ms Black brings us Timeless, an ambitious combination of painting, drawing, and sculpture that uses the iconography of the fashion world to explore intersecting themes of desire v. ownership and access v. exclusion. Surveying the work in the show, it is possible to detect a conversation of sorts going on amongst the work. Her Louis Vuitton and Hermes luggage sculptures made of paper, glue, and acrylic paint assert the folly of the acquisitive impulse, with the outsized, empty containers beckoning us forward only to subvert our expectations on closer inspection. Her paintings, both oil on canvas and gouache on paper, convey a hesitant yet rapt longing for inclusion as they deconstruct the impressions made by fashion and celebrity on the mind of the artist. In the paintings and sculptures, the fantasy created by the fashion world takes on recognizable features and dimensions. Black’s images conjure a similar mode of desire to that evoked by the products themselves, but hers is a desire made with the gears of manipulation on the outside, illuminating how and why the allure of fashion functions as it does. However, it’s important to note that the paintings are neither derisive nor judgmental; there is a recognizable love and fascination in them. If anything the paintings can be said to be studying the mechanics of desire. Examined through the lens of our current economic collapse, Ms Black offers a means for viewers to stand back a bit, and in that distance examine more closely the objects and lifestyle so often coveted in contemporary culture.
In Timeless, Ms Black expands to take on a new landscape of desire, that of fame, access, and the cult of personality. Four drawings take on the mechanics of mythmaking and success, in styles reminiscent of Vanity Fair one-page portraits. In these pieces, art world superstars from Warhol and Basquiat to Dali and Avedon discuss topics ranging from mentorship and success to the importance of a world-class hotel. And, serving as an important thematic key to the exhibition, Black’s painting of Andy Warhol’s Paintbrush unites all threads. Warhol used his art for many ends – riches and fame certainly, but primarily for access to worlds otherwise closed to him. In effect Warhol and his metaphorical ‘paintbrush’ created the worlds of glamour he so coveted in his youth and adult life. In fact, Ms Black may be saying ultimately, like Andy did, if you want it and can’t have it, just make it and take it.