Earning an MFA in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in 2019—the same year that she was named one of Saatchi Arts rising stars—Lizzy Lunday has found a new, fascinating way of depicting the figure in painting. Starting with a digital collage created with imagery culled from reality television, social media, and her own iPhone photos, she imaginatively mixes her shifting subjects with swaths of painterly action. Dropping inspiration from such Modernist masters as Francis Bacon and contemporary art talents like Christina Quarles into the mix, the Brooklyn-based painter composes her colorful characters in art historical scenarios to further blur the boundary between the real and the artificial.
In her second solo show at the gallery, Lunday presents a dozen canvases of various sizes—including some of her largest to date—spread out over two spaces. Seeming to riff on biblical scenes, her painting Carried portrays a screaming young woman being lifted by three giggling guys to surreally mimic Rubens and Caravaggio’s renditions of Jesus being taken down from the cross, while Garden’s Edge could be Adam and Eve’s welcoming to or expulsion from the Garden of Eden, with pop culture celebrities in the sacred roles. Similarly, her Boxers painting might be referencing Théodore Géricault’s lithograph of pugilists at the Met or the French Romanticist’s masterpiece, The Raft of Medusa, at the Louvre. Yet, even if it’s neither of them, it’s still a captivating canvas, rich with allegorical content and inventive techniques.