CHRISTINA QUARLES

COME IN FROM AN ENDLESS PLACE

7 June – 29 October 2023

MENORCA

For her exhibition in Menorca ‘Come In From An Endless Place,’ Christina Quarles continues to synthesize the study of drawing, experimental painting techniques and digital technology, resulting in an approach to figuration which situates the artist as a vanguard of contemporary painting.

Explore the exhibition

This summer, Los Angeles-based artist Christina Quarles will unveil new paintings and works on paper at Hauser & Wirth Menorca. ‘Come In From An Endless Place,’ her first exhibition in Spain, coincides with a major presentation at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin and follows her participation in last year’s celebrated exhibition ‘The Milk Of Dreams’ at the Venice Biennale.

Quarles’ critically acclaimed canvases and drawings display fragmented, polymorphous bodies embedded in rich, textural patterns—a singular approach to figuration, unique to the artist’s visual rhetoric and her fascination with the subject of bodily experience. Tangled arms and legs transform across her paintings, while perspectival planes bisect bodies, simultaneously grounding and dislocating them in space.

In her initial approach to the canvas, Quarles begins by making marks that evolve into line drawings of human forms and body parts. She then photographs the work and uses Adobe Illustrator to draw the backgrounds and structures that ultimately surround the figures. In a reversal of the conventional layering of a composition, Quarles’ figures precede and even dictate the environment that they come to inhabit.

As a queer, cis-gendered woman born to a Black father and a white mother, Quarles has described her position of engagement with the world as ‘multiply situated,’ an experience of embodiment reflected in her sui generis art. The intersection of Quarles’ figures and planes analogize the imagined and prescribed boundaries of identity. Vibrant magentas, blues, greens, and yellows serve not as a means of describing reality but as a way of actively resisting the viewer’s instinct to assign binary classifications to the figures such as male or female, white or Black, abstract or representational.

‘Fixed categories of identity can be used to marginalize but, paradoxically, can be used by the marginalized to gain visibility and political power. This paradox is the central focus of my practice.’ —Christina Quarles

Quarles’ contemplation of identity is illustrated by the large paintings on view in ‘Come In From An Endless Place,’ where multiple patterns, figures, and planes shift and collapse. Fixed only by the limits of Quarles’ arm span, the architectural features of her tableaux approach three-dimensionality. ‘Lift Yew Up, I Wanna Lift Yew Up, I Wanna’ portrays a suite of appendages –entwined arms and protruding legs on an aerial plane– that appear to alternately defy and submit to gravity.

There is an endless looping in Quarles’ composition, reflected in other works, such as, ‘(And Tell Me Today’s Not Today).’ Here ghostly figures appear spread across gradient planes. These knotted extremities seem tied to a centrifugal force, pulling arms, ears, and legs inwards, as figures attempt to reach the boundaries of the canvas. Foregrounded are two touching fingers that evoke Michelangelo’s canonical fresco in the Sistine Chapel. Freed from the collapse of body parts, they reach toward one another as God’s hand reached for Adam’s.

Pursuant themes of combat, support, and restraint can be seen in a new suite of mesmerizing acrylic paintings on paper, a technique Quarles exhibits publicly for the first time. Rendered by the span of Quarles’ wrist movement, bodies merge, overlap, squirm, and lean into one another through movements that give way to multiple readings.

In addition to the paintings on canvas and paper, ‘Come In From An Endless Place’ features Quarles’ fine-line drawings, where figures are often accompanied by phrases written into the composition, evoking the artists’ interest in language’s potential to create and disrupt meaning. The sentences, written in a mixture of slang and phonetic spelling, draw from a wide range of references; overheard phrases, poetry, or pop songs, such as ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, or ‘Self Control’ by Frank Ocean. In ‘Wish We’d Grown Up on tha Same Advice’ Quarles writes Ocean’s lyrics into a serene scene with figures that recline and embrace. In ‘Just Got Caught Up in Myself’ the title is written next to a contorting body, attempting to break free from the confines of two dimensions.

Education Lab

Alongside the exhibition, the Education Lab provides a dedicated learning space which addresses Christina Quarles’ approach to the body and language, created in collaboration with students from CREAE Espacio Creativo, a non-formal arts school for drawing, painting and ceramics. The Education Lab is complemented by events and learning activities throughout the duration of the exhibition.

About the artist

Christina Quarles (b. 1985) is a Los Angeles-based artist, whose practice works to dismantle and question assumptions and ingrained beliefs surrounding identity and the human figure. Born in Chicago and raised by her mother in Los Angeles, Quarles took art classes from an early age. She developed a solid foundation for a lifelong drawing practice through after-school programs and figure drawing classes at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

On view in Menorca

‘Christina Quarles. Come In From An Endless Place’ is on view now through 29 Oct 2023 at Hauser & Wirth Menorca.

Inquire about other available works by Christina Quarles

Christina Quarles ‘Come In From An Endless Place’

On view now through 29 October 2023 at Hauser & Wirth Menorca.

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