Clare Grill: Oyster: M+B Doheny

M+is pleased to present Oyster, an exhibition of new works by Clare Grill. This is the artist's first solo show with the gallery. The exhibition opens May 21, 2022 and will run through June 30, 2022 at M+B Doheny (470 N. Doheny Drive), with an opening reception on Saturday, May 21 from 6 to 8 pm. 


Clare Grill’s paintings refuse intellectual pretension and clear meaning. They offer instead a cache of open-ended impressions, hovering between the familiar and the unnamable. Each canvas’ monochromatic foundation is punctuated by whisps and hieroglyphs of contrasting tones, meticulously reworked through a measured process of intuition. Grill’s paintings do not conform to any preconceived ideal. Rather, the painting process dictates the final composition of each work. A thin coat of veiled color or unexpected divot in the linen’s surface draws out the painting’s form. The translucent and washed-over compositions bring contradictory sensations into harmony: disembodied lightness and rich material texture, or a buzzing electric color held in a soft, dusty haze.


Grill draws inspiration from an assortment of handmade documents. Birth certificates, family heirlooms, and baptismal records become a rich archive of introspection in her hands. Over the past several years, 18th- and 19th-century embroidery samplers have become particularly central to her work. Made by young girls to show facility with decorative needlework, these samplers demonstrate a meticulous sense of craft and a sensitivity towards domestic labor. Grill does not directly recreate these embroideries in her paintings, but rather translates her immediate impressions of them into small-scale drawings, slowly accreting a library of sketches which provide the grammar for her larger-scale, painted works. While Grill’s paintings channel the marks of these samplers, their intimations are particular to her individual process.


Grill’s paintings thus index periods of slow endurance. When considering the title of this show, ‘Oyster,’ she addresses this process of becoming: “A friend who is a ceramics artist recently described an aspect of her process as taking something that's an irritant and making something beautiful out of it; like sand becoming pearl. My paintings are very much concerned with letting irritants, things I can't control, into the process of their making. These new ones are made with a medium that is thick and slow and drags on the nubby imperfections of linen, highlighting variations in its weave. I began many of them using combinations of old paint piles on my palette. I hate to throw paint away, so I mixed together leftover colors to find new ones. And since the paint had been around a while it had dried bits, and surprise traces of other colors in it, which got spread onto the linen too, making their own little marks and pathways. I like to highlight these ‘irritants’ and let them be on display just as much as the shapes and marks I put there.”


Although born of Grill’s intensive looking, these works do not project her vision of the world onto others but serve as public vectors for free contemplation. At their core, Grill’s paintings are attempts at translating her experience of making them.


Clare Grill (born 1979, Chicago, IL) received her MFA from the Pratt Institute in 2005 and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2011. Solo exhibitions include Derek Eller Gallery, Zieher Smith & Horton Gallery (New York), Reserve Ames (Los Angeles, CA), Soloway Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), and Diane Rosenstein Gallery, (Los Angeles, CA). Her work has been reviewed in ArtforumArtNewsHyperallergicthe Brooklyn RailThe New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. Clare Grill lives and works in Queens, NY.


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