Where are the boundaries of self? Do we cease to be when we live in service of a grand ideology, or is it the lauded historical figure who ceases to be when they are ensconced in an image? The main crux of Lucia Love’s eclectic output is to circle this philosophical drain for all of time, eventually passing the baton to historians who are not yet born.
Love’s conceptual symbolist practice often lifts visual elements from religious parables and figures from political scandal to muse on flows of power, but every once in a while you’ll also see an abstracted figure draped across a surface, giving deceptive simplicity. In order to read each image, it’s best to think of the artist as a Dr. Frankenstein, sometimes showing you the face, sometimes just putting the headless body on display, and at times painting just a hollow skin as the structure for narrative. Often times a broad library of symbols will replace moments in each painting, the most commonly seen being a ring of people holding hands. Love’s invented symbol is a visual reference to the mystical power and the stultifying anonymity of existing within a collective. This ring, usually seen hovering in place of a head, exists in contrast to the mysterious moth - representative of each individual’s private stages of transformation.
A visionary statement accompanies the show as well which adds a literary component to the sometimes opaque visual mysteries of Love’s work. While each painting does have a “bed time story” explaining the subject, it becomes clear that words also serve to deepen questions around the function of each image. It’s not clear if there is a moral truth at the core of this work, but the search to find it can take some deliciously sinister turns within the pages of this zine.
Love has also made a foray into video work for the occasion of this show. The piece We are Angel which began as an experiment in illustrating the formation of circles of people, reads as a meditation on evolving connections. The collaborative process of video work also lends itself here as a reinforcement of collective action in visual contrast to the solo endeavor of painting.
Lucia Love (b. 1988, New York, NY) attended the School of Visual Arts on a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, where she studied painting and traditional animation. During this time, the craft of character design attracted her for its ability to speak of metaphysical experiences beyond what concrete portraiture could do. Lucia Love’s visually rich paintings are loaded with references to art history, mythology, politics, and the dynamics of power. While each work is decidedly figurative, it’s the references chosen to construct the figure and ground that push her works into the realm of idea painting. The symbolism of her paintings refers to the dyads of oppositional states, such as doom and hope, and solidarity and isolation. Many works depict states of flight or weightlessness in one form or another as well: the characters in her paintings operate within a state of suspension where potential is greatest. In most recent works, Love has turned to exploring angelic lore as a way to meditate on invisible forces that shape our world. In place of an individual face on these particular figures, she constructed a symbol that depicts a ring of people holding hands, mirrored so that they are also sharing thoughts. These mirrored rings of people are an homage to the form of the Ophanim, some of the closest angels to God. They also resemble the Hands Across America logo, or some invented Soviet Kitsch. It is with this gesture that she aims to illustrate the power that people are capable of when they realize their connections. In each depiction of the angel, this ring can be seen hovering as a collective entity that pilots the body below. They stand in for different collective habits both banal and mystical, and even in their absence, their meaning is felt. Love’s unusual painting style incorporates multiple techniques, such as hyperrealism, brushy gestures, and a flat, cartoonish line into cohesive and dynamic compositions. She is represented in New York by JDJ World.