Angela Dufresne: Life is very precious, even right now: M+B Doheny

M+is pleased to present Life is very precious, even right nowan exhibition of new works by Angela Dufresne. This is the artist's second solo show with the gallery. The exhibition opens September 24, 2022 and will run through October 22, 2022 with an opening reception on Saturday, September 24 from 6 to 8 pm.

Life is very precious, even right now is Angela Dufresne’s second solo exhibition with M+B. Dufresne approaches painting with a sense of ecstatic vigor, juxtaposing vibrantly colored fields teetering on the edge of abstraction, and placing figures in the ambiguous spaces that result. These figures—human, animal, and supernatural—cavort in combinations involving everything from solemn prayer to delirious sexual congress. Through a radical bricolage, she invents a world of fragments—mythological, historical, and pornographic—all filtered through an intense awareness of film history.

Dufresne takes the title of her exhibition from Eika Katappa (Scattered Pictures, 1969) by the great German filmmaker Werner Schroeter (1945-2010). The line is uttered by Magdalena Montezuma, a sustaining presence from the beginning of Schroeter’s career. A big-boned woman of imposing aspect and unforgettable profile, Montezuma (née Erika Kluge) became, in Gary Indiana’s words, “the greatest European actress since Anna Magnani,” posing, swooning, and emoting through forty films before her death in 1986. She was also an artist in her own right, but made enormous sacrifices for the sake of Schroeter’s filmmaking practice. This dynamic, erotic woman appears in almost every painting in Dufresne’s exhibition, as a beautiful floozy, a killer, a goddess, a shade visiting from the underworld.

The landscape painting Willow Springs Odyssey, or How Circe is What the West Needs anchors an informal altarpiece including portraits of Magdalena Montezuma on either side—the largest works in the exhibition. All three paintings were inspired by Willow Springs (1972), Werner Schroeter’s film about three eccentric women living in the desert north of Los Angeles. Dufresne’s landscape is entirely imaginary, with dreamy yellow mountains and a vivid purple lake more reminiscent of Marsden Hartley’s paintings than an actual location. In one portrait, Magdalena’s sinuous fingers fondle a pistol without any practical intent to shoot it. Her expression is simultaneously arch and beatific as she stands in the liquid blue light of cinematic night. In the other, Magdalena attempts to get gas at a pump long since dry, with her arms crossed to maximum decorative effect. Her skirt is a glowing, diaphanous field with only a slight resemblance to apparel. Rather than tying herself to strict mimesis, Dufresne revels in the play of paint on surfaces, the sensual ooze of oils—a triumph of cunning artifice.

 William E. Jones

Angela Dufresne (b. 1969) was born in Olathe, KS. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, MO; and at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York, New Paltz, among others. Group exhibitions include MoMAPS1, New York, NY; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; RISD Museum, Providence, RI; National Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY; Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, NY; Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY; Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH; Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; and Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA. The artist is the recipient of numerous awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship; Civitella Ranieri Fellowship; Siena Art Institute Residency; Yaddo Residency; Purchase Award, National Academy of Arts and Letters; and Headlands Center for the Arts Residency. Angela Dufresne lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. 

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