Concurrent to the presentation of her work at this year’s Venice Biennale, Christina Quarles unveils a series of new paintings in her first major solo exhibition in New York with the gallery.
Known for the fragmented and polymorphous bodies that animate her critically acclaimed canvases, Quarles’s fascination with expressing corporeality and its many complexities first took hold in a figure drawing class when she was twelve years old. Here, the artist has incorporated many unique elements from the natural world within her signature patterns and textures, achieving a new degree of spatial openness that expands upon her instinctual approach to figuration and richly layered visual vocabulary.
‘There's these larger overarching narratives of the work about what it is to be in a body, what it is to move through the world in a body, what it is to contend with wanting to have people be able to immediately read you, but then having parts of yourself that contradict that legibility or undermine that experience.’—Quarles
Quarles continues to attend life drawing classes whenever possible and did so most recently during her residency at the gallery’s Somerset location where many of the works on view were created. This approach to regularly observing different types of bodies anew while honing her skills has enabled the artist to push past the limits of anatomical legibility. Visualizing what it feels like to live within a body while grappling with an excess of identities, she approaches the canvas with no predetermined composition, letting entangled arms and legs emerge spontaneously from memory, imagination, and improvisation.
‘Jack Whitten was somebody that I found very influential. I was really thinking about material in this very binary way…I was being very rigid with how I was thinking about materiality. I realized that what he was doing was making something that felt very much like collage or assemblage.’—Quarles
Quarles trained and worked in the field of graphic design. As her immersion in the visual arts progressed, she became well versed in and heavily influenced by Marlene Dumas, Philip Guston and Jack Whitten among others.
The exhibition’s title, ‘In 24 Days tha Sun’ll Set at 7pm,’ refers to the time frame in which Quarles produced these paintings. Spanning the early months of 2022 through the final weeks of Summer, this body of work reflects the artist’s waxing and waning optimism across a tumultuous and transformative year. Much like the days whose light increases and decreases on either side of the seasons, the year began with growing potential for communal healing and social upheaval, yet it seems to be ending on a more tentative note.
Christina Quarles is a Los Angeles-based artist, whose practice works to dismantle assumptions and ingrained beliefs surrounding identity and the human figure. Intersecting color, texture, and layers, Quarles’ works are more akin to relief sculpture than conventional painting—a material outcome that further underscores Quarles’ themes of embodiment and experience for both the artist and the viewer.
Christina Quarles. In 24 Days tha Sun’ll Set at 7pm
‘Christina Quarles. In 24 Days tha Sun’ll Set at 7pm’ is on view now through 29 October 2022 at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street.