There is a narrative undercurrent to Stephanie London’s still life paintings that give a sense that her arranged objects are like actors on a stage. Sourcing her objects from thrift stores, eBay, or flea markets, they have an inherent nostalgic history to them, and as they are used again and again in her paintings, they become a familiar cast of characters. London’s prolonged study of these objects is apparent in their composition, for there is not only evidence of a finely attuned observation to how they work with one another in light, color, shape, and mood, but the space around and between them bristles with a mysterious energy over how they may relate in their uncanny juxtaposition. This intuitive process lends a sense of London’s hand and subconscious, giving the scene a touch of surrealism.
The paintings are quietly expressive, with a somber palette contrasted with an emphasis on light. A minimalist by nature, London is pushing herself with this latest body of work to imbue more complexity into her scenes with more objects and greater atmospheric details. Rather than placing these objects in an ambiguous ground, she is creating a specific place. With some of the paintings on view in Just Below the Surface, she uses segments of Picasso’s “Guernica” as a background. A favorite painting of London’s, this enables her to further understand and pay tribute to the painting, as well as to create a contrast between the bold, intense, and active imagery with the more tranquil scene and delicate objects.
London has been a practicing Buddhist for over thirty years, and considers both the act of creating a painting and viewing a painting to be a meditative experience. The art of arranging, portraying, and studying these scenes is a way to calm the storm within, and to provide a moment of quiet contemplation and beauty in a frequently harsh and tumultuous world.
Stephanie London has exhibited throughout the United States including the Provincetown Art Museum, Palm Springs Desert Museum, and Barnsdall Art Park. She was the recipient of the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grant. She holds a MFA from Claremont College, and lives and works in California.