Titled Blue Window, Caitlin Lonegan’s second exhibition with Vito Schnabel Gallery debuts a new series of works that showcases the Los Angeles-based artist’s uncanny ability to distill ephemeral light into luminous, layered iterations of color and texture. Taking up to two years to complete, each of Lonegan’s canvases derive from her careful observation of the ever-changing light in her working space – and its effects on color and spatial perception. Lonegan routinely encourages unexpected perceptual experiences with her completed works; with Blue Window she does so by organizing the canvases on view into groups based upon their scale, creating provocative contrasts between the effects of expansive and intimate looking.
Lonegan’s large paintings at Vito Schnabel Gallery – each slightly exceeding the wingspan and height of the artist’s body – are distinguished by their formal compositional structure. All of the works in this group feature various irregularly-shaped and interconnected portals of optical white, around which swaths of prismatic color and gestural brushwork accumulate. The result is a pictorial space whose effect is more expansive than the actual size of the painting, a force of the airiness suffusing the whole.
By contrast, Lonegan’s more intimately scaled paintings in Blue Window forego such overt formal affiliations with one another. One painting, Untitled (CL 2021.09) is densely built up, featuring a gradual accretion of gestures compacted into skeins of color topped by black scumbles. But in Untitled (CL 2021.10), in which clouds of fern green, a rosy magenta, and pale yellow coalesce on a metallic ground, the artist’s gestures have the energy of absolute immediacy – of having been laid down in a hot moment where labor and time collapse. The versatility and technical aplomb evident in this group of works bear witness to Lonegan’s steadfast curiosity as a painter.
That Lonegan presents such effects as hard evidence of her process – even while embracing her painterly slights of hand as ‘magic,’ a reverie that resists a reveal – identifies her as a visual empiricist. She seeks to render phenomena as she actually sees them, as accurately as possible. Every decision in her paintings is the result of exhaustive research into what constitutes an effect of light and color, and what makes the reproduction of that visual experience possible. And even if every observation is ineluctably subjective to Lonegan, it is applied to the canvas as objective fact so that her own optical experience can be shared with and fully felt by the viewer.
About the Artist
Born in 1982 in Long Island, New York, Caitlin Lonegan is a Los-Angeles based painter whose work explores the fugitive nature of optical phenomena in her studio environment. Translating these elusive experiences of light and space into paintings and drawings, she builds works that are layered with enigmatic color and gesture. Her distinctive abstractions have the effect of accumulated memories– impressions filtered through the prism of time and imagination, articulated with fractures and lapses, suggesting ephemeral and fleeting moments that flash and disappear from deep within the artist’s consciousness. Lonegan’s practice is immersed in observation; her approach responds to the empirical properties of color and its power to shape human perception.
Lonegan received her BA from Yale University in Art and Applied Physics in 2005 and her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2010.
Her work has been presented in numerous solo exhibitions at Vito Schnabel Gallery, New York, NY (2021); Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Vienna, Austria (2021, 2018); Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles, CA (2018); ACME, Los Angeles, CA (2012; 2010); and Wake up Early Fear Death: Caitlin Lonegan, Rebecca Morris, Laura Owens, a series of three solo exhibitions curated by Philipp Kaiser, Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Austria, Vienna (2014). Group exhibitions include Abstract Painting Now! Gerhard Richter, Katharina Grosse, Sean Scully, Kunsthalle Krems, Krems, Austria (2017) and the major survey show Made in L.A. 2014, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2014).
Caitlin Lonegan’s works can be found in many museums and permanent collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany; Berezdivin Collection, Puerto Rico; Strauss Collection, Rancho Santa Fe, CA; Benton Museum, Pomona College, Pomona, CA; and SoArt Collection, Vienna, Austria.