Night Gallery is pleased to announce Double Field, a solo exhibition of new works by Sarah Awad. This is the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery. In keeping with past bodies of work, Awad’s recent paintings prominently depict figures that scale themselves to occupy their respective fields of canvas. Elongated and doubled, these dynamic bodies feel unmistakably sculptural as they approach a scale twice that of their viewers.
Importantly, these figures emerge from abstracted grounds, forcing space into their surroundings. What begin as bold geometric washes become prompts for the teasing out of anatomy, faces, and appendages. The resulting paintings house fragmented bodies that navigate pictorial space. Awad’s watery underpaintings start on the studio floor and break the space of the canvas into vibrant geometries while remaining relatively flat. Only upon moving to the wall do they grow to house bodies and begin to develop interior space. These initial compositions make room in the work for material improvisation. Moving around the painting, Awad embraces the spontaneous drips, pools and variations she finds in the vinyl paint as it dries. The subsequent application of oils seeks to resolve these unruly shapes, breaking them up into spaces that a figure could move through.
Once bodies have materialized, Awad uses their gazes as a means to deepen the spatial and emotional relationships within the work. Influenced by mirrors as surfaces for the doubling of bodies, Awad employs reflection and repetition to create internal narratives for her subjects: individuals who watch themselves and are watched by others. In certain works, one is reminded of saunas or steam rooms where occupants repose in the nude, at home in their own bodies. Veiled by clouds of abstraction, these characters enact private dramas for neighboring figures and viewers alike.
Sarah Awad lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Gate Paintings and The Women at Diane Rosenstein Gallery. Her paintings have been included in Rogue Wave ’13 at La Louver and group exhibitions in Vienna, New York, Seattle, Rotterdam, and Miami. She received the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA grant in 2011 and her work has been reviewed in Art in America, Modern Painter, and New American Painting. She received her MFA in painting from UCLA in 2011. Her work is in the collection of the Hotel Figueroa in Downtown LA. She teaches on the faculty of UC Irvine.