Lisa Diane Wedgeworth: Passion Power Prayer
Band of Vices, West Adams, Los Angeles
extended through July 3
“When you touch the celestial in your heart, you will realize that the beauty of your soul is so pure, so vast and so devastating that you have no option but to merge with it. You have no option but to feel the rhythm of the universe in the rhythm of your heart.”Amit Ray
Written by Shana Nys Dambrot
Paintings by Lisa Diane Wedgeworth use an exclusively black-tone palette, but within this ostensibly limited framework she achieves such a marvelous plurality of gesture, mark-making, texture, shape, pattern, detail, atmosphere and perspective that you never miss the chromatics. She generates spirals and helices, chevrons, hexagons, clouds and vectors, triangles, asterisks, ley lines, spheres and scratches, light and shadow, a sense of uninterrupted movement in both line and the play of light across variable surface treatments, and most majestically, the spheres.
All of these elements interact in complex choreography, layered discourse, and a cartographic lexicon of form that is almost like a language. In these and other subtle and more assertive ways, the works hold their space as extremely physically present paintings. Recognizable shapes from geometry and perhaps the solar system emerge and play key roles, but the work remains firmly in the continuum of abstraction. If that were the whole story — a tale of technique, imagination, and the powerful hand of a mindful artist — that would be enough. But as you might have guessed, there’s much more to it than that.
Wedgeworth explains that her choices of an all black palette absolutely contains a set of meanings related to being Black in America. The central idea is that the people, like the color, are far from monolithic or one-dimensional — that just as Black identity and lives contain multitudes of experience, black the color is capable of expressing myriad states of matter and being. Within this foundational structure she then places her own personal sense of organic and psychic existence, infusing the structural anchoring elements of the compositions with encoded stories from her life and contextualizing them within symphonic settings of penumbric, gestural marks like auras or memory clouds.
In works like “Self Portrait as a Levitating Triangle (Embracing)” — all works: oil & acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 inches, 2020 — and “Hex Be Gone (In Jesus’ Name Amen)”, she makes the clear connection between her sense of self, her sense of connectivity to the organic, cosmic and spiritual realms, and her attraction to the enactment of rituals that keep the body she inhabits in direct communication with the celestial bodies that surround us. The series’ key work, “As the Lady in Green (How I Sit with My Legs Open to Give My Crotch Sunlight)”, flirts with figuration and proceeds with both humor and gravitas, drawing the eye toward a place of intimacy but ultimately refusing it any rest.
Wedgeworth has worked in this fertile terrain before, in an earlier series more straightforwardly referencing the living link between earthly and heavenly bodies which is fortuitously installed at the gallery as well. This new series is the culmination of Wedgeworth’s recent COLA Fellowship, in a project specifically pursuing ideas about how her own physical creation of paintings in itself represents a manner of ritual. Combining a modern narrative of identity with an idiom of abstraction, Wedgeworth ends up with something both fresh and classic that is quite literally both personal and universal.
Please note the gallery’s new second location: 5351 W. Adams Blvd; on view through July 3; artist talk June 26; bandofvices.com.
Band of Vices
5351 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, 90016