Lauren Luloff’s recent collage paintings bring to mind the sky, the worn floor of a textile mill, tea in an old porcelain cup and laundry drying in the sun. Her process is simple: first she stretches semi transparent fabric over stretcher bars, then glues swatches of fabrics and paints on this “ground”. Nothing is hidden and everything is revealed. The process, laid bare, yields something mysterious; the work becomes hazy and atmospheric, like dawn or a memory of childhood. The fabrics simultaneously root and dislocate the painted colors, like Matisse who famously always painted with scraps of printed fabrics hanging around his studio.
Or perhaps they are a little like Rauschenberg’s “Bed”, the piece where he took his bedclothes and tipped them from horizontal to vertical, and magically the most basic and homely thing became art. Similarly, Luloff recycles and pays homage to her life and practice. A life lived just as much in the studio as in the outside world. The pieces of fabric here are, in fact, doubly recycled. Luloff scours thrift shops to find the “right” piece of bed sheet or old curtain. Back in her studio she will bleach or stain patterns and shapes into the fabric which, in turn, are glued onto her “paintings” both large scale and small. The pieces here, on these intimately scaled paintings, are the lowest common denominator, the tender pieces, saved from the dustpan after a day of work; like flakes of gold in a prospector’s pan.
The works on display are glimpses into a life unfolding through painting and material. Luloff’s work belongs in the lineage of such artists as the before mentioned Rauschenberg, as well as Joan Snyder, American heirs to cubism and artists known for wearing their hearts on their sleeves. There is also atmosphere in these paintings, not unlike painters and notable colorists Helen Frankenthaler or Mark Rothko. Luloff offers a constant contrast between the rooted objects of everyday life and the soaring ambition to transcend those very things.
I have had this same experience when I visit Luloff’s funkily majestic Bushwick studio. The space she has created for her herself and her work is endlessly heartening to me as a painter. The capacity for this artist to make things with fabric, glue, and scissors and paint that are so uniquely her own, full of necessity, generosity and grace. This, suddenly I realize, maybe the very definition of painting and quite possibly love. -Wallace Whitney
Lauren Luloff (b. 1980, Dover, NH) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received a MFA from Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY and a BFA from Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Her work has been included in the notable exhibitions Painting Expanded at Tanya Bonakdar, New York; Not the Way you Remembered at the Queens Museum of Art, New York; and The Working Title at the Bronx River Arts Center, New York. The artist was recently profiled by Johnny Misheff in The New York Times T Magazine and has been mentioned in the Village Voice, The Brooklyn Rail, and Vellum. Recent Small Works is the artist’s second solo exhibition with Horton Gallery.