The Living Waters
Opening Saturday, February 17th, 5-7pm
On view through Saturday, March 23, 2024
Take my hand. Come swim with me.
We can float to the bottom of the ocean for an unlit stillness, another timeframe. Watch our unnecessary parts dissolve back into nutrients. We can flatten ourselves along the riverbed, read exoskeleton ciphers written on the oldest rocks. We can let the minerals wash over us. Even as we come undone, our essential structures remain: the bone-lines and jewel facets are still here, shifting, rearranged, scrubbed clean. We become the next shape, the next body.
The Living Waters, a solo exhibition of new abstract paintings by Los Angeles artist Alise Spinella, will be her first with Timothy Hawkinson Gallery. These intimate works trace the course of a metamorphosis occurring in the tangible, physical realm, as well as the unseen psychic registers. Each painting offers a glimpse into another world.
Spinella relates that “This new work was made in a period of grief and depicts the internal landscape during a process of dissolution and change, of metabolizing loss -- the transformative moment when constructs, selfhood, and seemingly solid forms dislodge and drift away into deeper waters. And, too, it evokes the water itself: the waters that can mend us, that regenerate by way of softening, slow time, permeate; the waters that loosen us apart, and gently grow us again.”
The central images of the paintings are amorphous, outlined shapes with almost figurative presence. Each hints at a once-gridded form, since disrupted, in a cycle of erosion or renewal. In another recent body of work, Spinella explored underground terrains populated by circular grids and jewel tones; in her newest paintings we see nothing but scaffolding or folds, scattered lines dancing freely, multiplying, jumping dimensions, or enveloped in clouds of color. The only solid shapes seem to reflect shadows more than light, with warm-black rectangles reappearing throughout. In Washing of the Water, incandescent yellows and greens flicker through a deep blue ground, a luminous orb nearly coming into focus. The environment looks to be slowly churning, releasing sparks of cool-toned eddies. Pale, tender, earthen tones emerge in a wash of airy whites and yellows in The Diving Shell, half of the subject erased from view.
In Spinella’s practice, drawing and painting are interwoven. A wide array of materials and techniques are used throughout: acrylic glazed over pastels and graphite; gouache and charcoal erased with water, leaving ghostly imprints; thick, porcelain-smooth paint mediums sanded down and built up. Through these repetitive processes, each piece acquires a patina of layers that alludes to the changes inherent in the passage of time. These layered surfaces further lend the works a translucent, otherworldly quality. The hand-drawn line is always at the fore, mapping the contours of the unknown.
Alise Spinella was born in Sacramento, California, and raised in both California and Koyasan, Japan. She received an MFA from CalArts, a BA in Psychology and Computer Science from UCLA, and a BFA from RISD. Her artwork has been shown nationally and internationally, in New York, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, and Rome, and most recently at Fellows of Contemporary Art (FOCA) and Elephant Art Space, both in Los Angeles. She is an alumna of residency fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center and Arteles Creative Center, Finland, and was awarded a California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists. She lives and works in Los Angeles.