4 4 3 P A S is pleased to announce Against Nature, an exhibition of large paintings by Laurel Sparks. Combining the ornate flatness of fin-de-siècle modernism with the gestural wildness of early Abstract Expressionism, Sparks uses theatrical iconography inspired by queer and psychedelic cinema, inventing an aesthetic lexicon akin to high femme drag.
Androgynous iconoclasts, from Luisa Casati to Ziggy Stardust, act as muses in Sparks’ abstract portraits of glamor and decay. Alluding to these glamorous figures, Sparks overlays linear silhouettes of Venetian chandeliers and perverse Christmas trees with an ambidextrous blind contour drawing. Icons take shape and dissolve within a carnival of color, glitter, and bejeweled protrusions.
Intense gestures celebrate baroque forms of artifice: theatricality, costume, cosmetics, and persona. At the same time, raw emptiness contradicts hedonistic adornment. Within each work there is a painterly call and response between poured white marble dust, bare canvas and decorative pattern. The surfaces oscillate between elegance and vulgarity. Pleasure, elegy, and irreverence co-exist in Sparks’ paintings, like the complex character of the muses they invoke.
Sparks holds an MFA from Bard and a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her work was recently exhibited in the DeCordova Biennial (Lincoln, MA) and Dramatis Personae at Dodge Gallery (New York, NY). She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.