“An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word 'love' — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.” —Adrienne Rich
“Love at first sight is a hypnosis…” —Roland Barthes
Harper’s is pleased to announce When We Kissed, an exhibition of paintings by artist Elizabeth Huey. A reception will be held on September 11 from 6 to 8 pm, and the artist will be present. The show will remain on view until October 26th.
In her third solo exhibition with the gallery, Huey remains deeply invested in the psychology of relationships and devoted to the construction of intimate allegories employing architecture and natural elements. Several of the paintings’ titles are taken from poets, including the confessional lines of Sylvia Plath, alluding to their inspiration and genesis. Akin to poetry, her tableaux explore a disjunctive space between the concrete and metaphysical. The title of the exhibition, When We Kissed, references Edvard Munch’s painting The Kiss, part of his Frieze of Life series that includes the famous painting The Scream. Huey identifies with Munch’s mission, in his own words, to paint "living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.”
Huey's new series of paintings is a musing on the science of attraction and the complex emotional terrain of longing. Conjuring amorous encounters, Huey is shamelessly romantic with her visual metaphors, panoramic vistas, and windows of perception all to evoke the power of a passionate embrace.
Informed by history and literature, the imaginary settings, characters, and palette change with each panel, defying the particularities of space and chronology of time. Huey works the paintings' surface into a thickly applied impasto of oil paint, sometimes directly with the hand sans brush, imbuing it with physical and metaphorical dimensionality. Suffused by an array of influences—the montaged love stories of R.B. Kitaj, the idyllic charm of Jean-Antoine Watteau, phantasmagoric figures of Leonora Carrington, and the intimacy of Édouard Vuillard—each painting represents a season within the unending cyclicity of desire and the meandering nature of relationships. Her kaleidoscopic visual treatment of couples frolicking within and without interior spaces refers to the mind and heart.
Elizabeth Huey (b. 1971, Virginia Beach, VA) received a BA in Psychology from George Washington University and an MFA from Yale University. Huey has participated in a number of residencies including Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY; Freight and Volume Summer Residency, Provincetown, MA; and the Fountainhead Residency, Miami. Most recently, Huey’s work has been exhibited at Harper’s, New York and East Hampton; The Pit, Glendale, CA; Ochi Projects, Los Angeles; Essex Flowers, New York; and River Gallery, Berlin. Reviews of her work have appeared in Artforum, Hyperallergic, and New York Magazine, among other publications. Huey lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.