Loyal is proud to announce a solo exhibition with Michelle Blade, “The Blue Horse”. This is the Los Angeles artist’s first solo exhibition in Europe and her first with the gallery. The exhibition consists of twelve paintings installed over two floors of the gallery. A catalog is published for the exhibition.
These are paintings documenting time, closely examining the stillness, strength, persistence of the natural world. Like Charles Burchfield painting through the seasons, taking note of the waxing and waning of blooming flowers, leaves, and quality of light, Blade endeavours to document the seasons of her parenthood, watching her daughters as they interact in places where three generations of her family have also engaged. Blade contemplates and intersects these different times, as she creates a form for memory, infusing color and texture in this group of twelve acrylic and ink on cotton poplin canvases.
In one of the largest works in the show, “Makers of Meaning”, two figures are seen climbing on large boulders rising up on either side of them. The image originated from a trip Blade took with her two daughters to Joshua Tree, the weekend after a split in the family of which her daughters weren’t yet aware. As the kids climbed the boulders, Blade recalls thinking that she allowed them more freedom to explore than she normally would have done.
In this painting everything appears in motion, not just the figures, the sky, the clouds, the shrubs, and even the boulders, but also the new life they are going to return to, the unknown waiting behind the mountain top under the moody blue sky the figures are climbing towards. The image of figures going upwards towards a goal is a means of injecting narrative overtones, enhancing the painting’s dramatic potential. It suggests the artist’s advance toward and response from her canvas, depicting creation as an activity, a collection of moments, a process of uncertain duration beginning with the inception of the “climb” and continuing beyond its completion.
With this fluid image Blade is able to convey the afternoon’s heat rising off the desert landscape and the quiet calm one experiences when faced with a big decision, opening up for the unknown. Blade is showing us states-of-being-human rather than human beings. The apparitional quality of the figures and their surroundings reflects the restlessness of the intimate moment she portrays. In this way Blade also reflects on the temporal character of personal relationships. As the characters move in life, they also change with time. They come and go, in and out of the picture, in and out of one’s life and time. It’s as if Blade is solidifying these fleeting moments, showing us states of being in flowing flux.
Blade acknowledges the liquidity of the paint as she allows it to bleed, bloom, and pulse in her wet-into-wet compositions. The figurations are blazingly precise and full of visual information, creating a dynamic structure as she builds up the image. There is an emphasis on color, clear tones of color, that seem to form chords that ring out while maintaining the integrity of the line. Beyond these forms, there are also ambiguous spaces where we enter into areas of abstraction evoking an emotional and visual experience with a distinctly weightless quality. With this looseness in her technique, Blade frees the figure, trusting on instincts rather than pinning it down precisely, she encourages the figure to escape, and to remain as dynamic and enigmatic as it is in life.
She paints life, what she sees, and also what brought her there. Blade acknowledges that we do not create our reality on our own. Every moment is influenced by the results of choices made by others in the past, and whose cumulative effect has contributed to the reality of our current moment. It is then our choices in this moment that will create the future. In the self-portrait in her living room, “A Gesture of Memory”, Blade introduces the artist’s presence as a participant in this play, acknowledging herself, the creator of this world, sitting high above it all, peering down at herself in the scene, like a disembodied mind overseeing.
There is creation, there is destruction, there are oases, there are havens. The trees in the garden that are old and enormous were planted in some moment in the past, and they shape our current experience. The interiors of the home hold significance. It is as if this whole arch leading time forward is in the work. The triumph of finding your way, the triumph of family, the triumph of following your conviction to fruition and letting it lead you. The triumph of painting.
In these glimpses from daily life translated into harmonies of color, Blade ushers us forward with enthusiasm. In the “The Blue Horse”, the title painting of this exhibition, at the center is a figure on a horse, surrounded by a pool of water, a device that symbolizes the artist’s emancipation from earlier influences and proclaims her aesthetic independence. On either side, trees rise up steeply, with a brilliant, almost violently blue sky above, neither day nor night. In its expression lives a subjective reality guided by emotional truth that feels more spiritual than physical, like she knows of a secret hidden in a very literal landscape, and can’t wait to show it to us.
Michelle Blade (b. 1981 Los Angeles, CA) lives and works in Los Angeles. This is Michelle Blade’s first European solo exhibition and her first with Loyal (Stockholm). Other solo exhibitions include Wilding Cran Gallery (Los Angeles), and Viewing Room / Odd Ark (Los Angeles). Recent group exhibitions include “I Do My Own Stunts”, curated by Jack Siebert and Caio Twombly (Los Angeles), The Pit (Los Angeles), WOAW Gallery (Hong Kong), Make Room (Los Angeles), Asia Art Center organized by Emilia Yin and Melanie Ouyang Lum (Taipei), The Center for Contemporary Arts (Santa Fe), The Bonnefanten Museum (Netherlands), Jack Hanley (New York), Southern Exposure (San Francisco), Roberts & Tilton (Los Angeles), The Torrance Art Museum (Los Angeles). Blade’s work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Paris Review, Juxtapoz, The California Sunday Magazine, and Art Maze. Michelle Blade holds a BA from Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles (2003) and an MFA from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco (2008).