Meliksetian | Briggs is pleased to present Some Women: A Total Portrait With No Omissions, new paintings from Christiane Lyons’ ongoing series Some Women.
Continuing a practice driven by an investigation into the process of painting and the use of appropriated material, this series focuses on the reinterpretation of the female figure in portraiture.
Through the manipulation of imagery of the female figure, Lyons confronts conceptual and material aspects concerning the subject / object dichotomy found in representational painting. In her paintings, she explores, by distorting the female body, the cycle of women’s objectification throughout art history and culture while, at the same time, attempting to break this cycle by imbuing the figures with subjectivity. This distortion manifests by using found images of multiple women's bodies to create a single female figure in each painting. Lyons appropriates from random internet image searches, culling material ranging from social media to fashion photography, since in her view, these representations of women have a universal reach to women worldwide, from all cultures and of all ages.
The titles of the paintings are two-part and reiterate Lyons’ exploration of the subject / object dichotomy. For example, in the title Yayoi: Arrangement in Yellow Lake and Vermillon Clair, the subject is Yayoi (Kusama), a female artist influential to Lyons’ practice and the object is the physical oil paint that predominates in the artwork, in this case Yellow Lake and Vermillon Clair. Using the names of the oil paint colors is a device Lyons’ borrows from painter James McNeil Whistler, who wished to de-emphasize the narrative content of his work and direct the viewer’s attention to the artist’s manipulation of paint.
In these paintings, Lyons also focuses on the tension between the figure and the background, pushing towards each holding equal weight and investigating the pull between subject and object through both her manipulation of paint and appropriations from the art historical canon. Lyons paints using the wet-on-wet technique, also known as alla prima. It is a direct painting approach where fresh paint is applied onto a wet surface, without allowing earlier layers to dry. She finds that since painting this way requires a fast, gestural way of working, her “women” achieve a more immediate and honest quality that fosters their subjectivity and allows the backgrounds to become her own reinterpretation of the original source material.
Christiane Lyons received her MFA in Painting/Drawing from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and her BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives and works in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In May 2022, Lyons work will be featured in the major survey painting exhibition Women Painting Women, curated by Andrea Karnes at The Modern, Fort Worth (catalog forthcoming).