Monique Prieto, Luster
By Anna Garner
Through October 28th
Abstract paintings draw viewers’ attention to the surface, gleaning content and narrative not from representation, but from the exchange between color, brushstroke, and texture. In “Luster”, Monique Prieto’s current solo exhibition at Chimento Contemporary, these essential ingredients coalesce to generate pleasing and layered pieces, but pieces that are nonetheless susceptible to both benefit and suffer from the ambiguity of abstraction.
There are four paintings on view in “Luster”; each is large, 72.5×72.5” and 48.5×36”, and each is a diptych, separated by barely an inch-white wall punctuating the division. The sets are titled by the monochromatic use of paint, Grey Set, Pink Set, Yellow Set, and Blue Set. The bulbous forms that make up the composition are contrasted against a sharp black background and seem loosely anthropomorphic.
The use of black differs from Prieto’s previous works, which are rendered more energetically using vibrant blocks of color on white backgrounds. In Luster” the palate is still bright, utilizing primary colors; yet the black contrasts the colors and dims the normally playful combination of red, yellow, and blue, leaving a feeling of solemnity and seriousness. This is felt most in Grey Set, where the palate becomes completely achromatic. The black framing additionally brings to mind photographic backgrounds used in product photography that serve to isolate and spotlight; the edges of Prieto’s forms similarly become illuminated and distinct against the background.
Defined outlines and shapes have been a steady thread for Prieto. Usually filled with evenly applied and saturated color, in “Luster” the paintings again diverge from earlier work through visible brush marks that leave an imperfect, textured, and varied surface making evident the process of paint application. The use of wood panel instead of canvas adds additional texture, as the grains and knots of the wood push through the matte surface forming an organic pattern that compliments Prieto’s forms.
The amalgam of form, texture, and color in the work communicates organic, perhaps human and dancerly, structures that are compelled through the diptychs’ proximity into conversational ballets. The dark backgrounds and playful yet muddied colors convey anxieties of closeness, that also repeat in the space between the panels; they almost but do not quite touch. While these conclusions can be drawn, this is an individual reading and Prieto may have a different perspective on the work. Additionally, another viewer will bring their individual associations and likely end another translation. This is abstraction’s allure and frustration; it can concurrently be innumerable things. In “Luster” this ambiguity allows conversation, stimulating continued curiosity about the paintings’ nuances. Through looking closely and considering the personal and broader implications of Prieto’s forms conversation and reflection emerges that remains beyond the space of the gallery.
622 South Anderson Street, Space 105, Los Angeles, CA 90023