Quarles’ work explores the human body through manipulation and intervention, illuminating the slippery qualities of identity. The amorphous bodies occupying the artist’s canvases traverse spaces and architectures, sliding through floors, windows and walls, establishing fluidity between these bodies and their environments. The motifs and colour palettes present across each canvas are nods and gestures to Quarles’ own environment and identity. These colour combinations often gesture to her everyday surroundings while many of the patterns and textures represented are pulled from various nostalgic references, containing hidden personal references.
Throughout Quarles’ drawings, her interest in word play and puns is brought to the fore. The abstracted bodies present throughout these works are accompanied by fragments of text, which often have a poetic quality. Lining the edges of the image or hovering between figures these abrupt textual passages refuse direct interpretation, instead providing lyrical companionship to the drawings’ protagonists by hinting at conversations, memories or unfolding narratives.
The ambiguity of these bodies and the phonetic and shorthanded titles and text are gestures towards the flexible nature of the gendered and sexual self. Quarles’ works explore the indeterminate qualities of human bodies and identities, creating alternative worlds for her gender ambiguous characters to flourish, interact and make contact with one another and the spaces that attempt to contain them.
Christina Quarles (b. 1985 Chicago, USA) currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She received an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2016, and holds a BA from Hampshire College. Her current and forthcoming exhibitions include: Christina Quarles / MATRIX 271, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley (2018); Made in L.A., Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); It’s Gunna Be All Right, Cause Baby, There Ain’t Nuthin’ Left, Skibum MacArthur, Los Angeles (2017); Trigger: Gender as a Tool and as a Weapon (New Museum, New York, NY); Fictions, The Studio Museum, New York (2017); Reconsitituion, LAXART, Los Angeles (2017) among others.
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Christina Quarles, Casually Cruel, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 195.5 x 243.8 cm / 77 x 96 in
Photo: Adam Fratus