Fredericks & Freiser is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Lizzy Lunday. Lunday’s paintings distort the boundaries between the real and the artificial to consider the constructions of relationships in a world informed by celebrity culture. Her figures are modelled on the endless cycle of celebrities from reality television, Instagram, and paparazzi photographs. Combining images from these sources with her own personal photographs, the artist focuses on the messy ethics of our Insta-famous culture to create tableaus of romantic engagement where genuine emotion is hidden behind precarious notions of selfhood and awkward moments of human interaction.
Lunday’s paintings are saturated in bright oranges, purples, and blues. The unrealistic hues twin the artist’s visual interest in combining many layers of figure, gestural abstraction, and linework which at once draw the audience in and alert the viewer that these narratives are slippery and unstable. Visually and formally, Lunday’s decisions ensure against a straightforward read. To this end, Lunday paints her figures in positions that alternate between the casual aesthetics of the snapshot and the formal composition of canonical masterpieces.
In one portrait, a woman clad in a spaghetti-strap mini-dress poses holding a wine glass; two women intently staring at the central figure hover nearby. The peering women caress their own faces, wiping aside hair and visible excitement to focus on the object of their affection. The onlookers’ unrequited stares and the central woman’s supposed unawareness or active ignoring of the spying eyes call to mind the Biblical tableau of Susanna and the Elders wherein two men ogle and threaten Susanna while she is bathing. In Lunday’s composition, the skulking figures appear jealous or in awe of how the central woman carries herself, mimicking the perverse obsession that marks Susanna’s lurkers. In another painting, a Christ-like figure utterly consumed in purple and blue stripes slouches into the sturdy support of two flanking women, evoking the arrangement of a pietà.
These formal connections to art historical touchstones call attention to, or perhaps begin to satirize, our cultural obsession with celebrity while foregrounding what happens when the strange and familiar collide. In Lunday’s paintings, this ambiguity replaces the authenticity of interpersonal relationship and affords the viewer an opportunity to reflect upon the instability of desire.