Contributed by Sharon Butler / A year ago, Lauren Luloff left Brooklyn for Lubec, a small town in a sparsely populated part of Maine near the Canadian border. Since then, she’s been living in an old house surrounded by untended land, sea views, and wildlife. Given the wealth of natural forms in her new environs, it is a little mysterious – and certainly thought-provoking – that Luloff’s twelve new paintings, on view at Fridman Gallery through July 24, have taken a decisive turn away from organic form, floral patterns, and flowing structure towards compulsive geometric pattern. These paintings seem like a lively fusion of Mondrian’s 1942 painting Broadway Boogie Woogie, Sophie Taueber-Arp’s colorful grid-based textile designs that were recently on view at MoMA, subway mosaics, and domestic tile projects, with more than a dash of Marsden Hartley’s chunky shapes.
For Luloff, the grid and line patterns make up the overall compositions, with vivid colors saturating the little silk squares creating audacious contrasts of light and space. This body of work seems informed by Luloff’s earlier paintings on vintage silk clothing, bolts of delicate fabrics, and bedding. She often combined panels, tacking pieces to the wall or layering them on poles and other supports that activated transparencies and allowed the fabrics to drape. But the new work has been stretched, and despite her use of silk and dye, overall the paintings embrace a more traditional approach. In some, the grid is divided into curvy collage-like shapes that conjure landscape masses, with titles, such as Lubec, that reference specific places.
Attached to stretchers, the fabrics have a tautness that creates endearingly wobbly edges. The color-play of the dye application and imagery are easier to apprehend, but they still retain a bold abstractness. The labor-intensive process, like tiling a bathroom, is rigorous and meditative. That is not to say that they are somber, subdued, or fussy, but rather that they suggest, appropriately enough, deliberate remove. Perhaps for Luloff, the whirl of the city she inhabited for years, and its complex geometry of streets and structures, have become an ideal container for the wild Maine landscape, capturing both experiences more clearly from a reflective distance.
“Lauren Luloff: Square Paintings and a Stripe Painting,” Fridman Gallery, 169 Bowery, New York, NY. Through July 24, 2022.