Clare Woods. I Blame Nature

4 May 2024 – 8 Jun 2024

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11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00

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Night Gallery is thrilled to present I Blame Nature, an exhibition of paintings by Clare Woods. This is the artist’s second solo presentation with the gallery. It follows After Limbo—her debut solo show in Los Angeles—and her participation in the group show Shrubs (both 2022).

Time is a central concern throughout I Blame Nature. Flowers droop, the face sags, a cat appears in either temporary or permanent rest. Even a cherry dessert, decorated couch, and pair of faces appear composed of geological strata. Our adventures on earth, and those of the plants and ecologies we know, are comparatively brief. Yet with an air of Magritte, the surreal title painting depicts a mirrored image of a timeless scene—clouds floating across the sky. As Woods commingles the ephemeral and eternal, she asks larger questions about her medium’s relationship to preservation and loss.

The artist works from a studio in rural England, where the vicissitudes of weather and landscape are ever-present concerns. Her process begins long before she applies paint. For three decades, Woods has amassed a trove of images from disparate media sources and her own photography. She selects a handful for each show, then creates simple line drawings that remove most of their information. Woods applies these drawings to aluminum panels, which she lays flat on trestles.

Then she begins to paint: wet into wet, one section at a time, with an improvisational approach to color and form. Woods cannot see her full composition as she works—she makes do with what’s immediately in front of her. Much of her color mixing happens on the panel, as the artist pulls color through from one section to the next. Though she paints a single layer, the aluminum allows her brushstrokes to retain their texture and volume.

Three large-scale paintings anchor I Blame NatureThe Long Arm (2023) features a gridded trellis entwined with white flowers. Its own arms appear to extend infinitely beyond the bounds of Woods’ composition. In Retreat from Glory (2023), a luminous chandelier hangs in the center of a dark wood backdrop. Time Slip (2024), the final painting Woods made for the show, depicts sunset clouds floating horizontally above deep blue terrain. The artist treats this landscape with the vertical cropping traditional to portraiture. Up close, each of these works dissolve into abstract tangles of color that record the artist’s dynamic movements.

Woods honors her aesthetic heroes in the exhibition’s dual portraits. Al takes inspiration from an image of Alice Neel, Lou from a late-aughts portrait of Louise Bourgeois (both 2023). Woods is obsessed with these women’s works and lives: the hardships they endured and the trajectories of their own aesthetics. After three decades of painting, Woods feels she’s only at the beginning. Time keeps passing, and there’s still so much work to do.

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Clare Woods


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