Artist: Mimi Lauter
Exhibition title: Interiors
Venue: TIF SIGFRIDS, Los Angeles, US
Date: January 28 – March 4, 2017
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and TIF SIGFRIDS, Los Angeles
With the suite of new drawings gathered for her first exhibition at TIF SIGFRIDS, Mimi Lauter explores the idea of interiors. While of the two central works in this show Living Room Interior (2016) makes literal this notion of domestic space, its paired drawing, Mountain in a Cage (2016), seemingly does the opposite, at once presenting a realistic landscape and a surreal proposition (the caged mountain of the title is crowned for instance by a sideways ear). The works move between between abstraction and representation, alluding to the sites they suggest to in their titles while their subjects remain tantalizingly elusive. Their immersive scale and shared rectangular format creates a set-like atmosphere; they are stages for action and worlds for us to enter.
The two works are unmistakably connected through their similar compositional structures, bold, saturated palettes, and the unique visual qualities created by Lauter’s deft handling of oil pastel, her signature material. This material allows the works to exist in the space between painting and drawing—a powerful, tactile build-up of pigment and form and the creation of an almost sculptural strata of marks and color give way to intimate passages of finely rendered imagery. Lauter’s handling of the surfaces of her works suggests an embrace of the complex pleasures, emotional and optical, of looking, and of color, pattern, and light. Her work nods to the lyrical and saturated abstraction of European modernism and its best impulses towards rhythm and gesture. They reveal the inextricably intertwined and often fraught relationship between representation and expression.
Lauter begins her process with the execution of small-scale drawings, some of which will be translated into mural-sized works. Displayed alongside Living Room Interior and Mountain in a cage are the studies for these works and a number of small, related images of landscapes and other types of interiors. Among these, Flower Interior (2016) suggests another dimension to the show. A comparatively lighter work—both in color and gesture—it is a staccato wash of white hatch marks set a top a light blue background, interrupted by pockets of yellow imagery, scratched out of the work. A thick, impasto of pick crowns the top of the work—a messy, vulvic way in. Additionally, the inclusion of two sets of preparatory drawings for an ambitious project Lauter is undertaking—creating a suite of drawings that form an architecturally scaled altarpiece—reveals the scope of Lauter’s range. It is little wonder than that Lauter’s notion of an interior is an architecture, a landscape, a home, and a site within self. It is the site of the subconscious, the consummate interior, that allows us to perceive the world and ourselves in riotous images such as these; they speak to the way we might know something without seeing it, the ways in which something might be pictured without being shown.
Mimi Lauter was born in San Francisco in 1982. She received her BA at University of California, Los Angeles and her MFA from University of California, Irvine. Her work is in the collections of The Hammer Museum and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2012 Lauter was featured in the first iteration of Made in LA, the Hammer Museum’s Los Angeles biennial.
Mimi Lauter, Mountain in a Cage, 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 70 x 108.5 inches
Mimi Lauter, Living Room Interior, 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 70 x 93 inches
Mimi Lauter, Moonrise (miniature), 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 13.5 x 30.25 inches
Mimi Lauter, Sunrise (miniature), 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 13.5 x 30.25 inches
Mimi Lauter, Bird in and on a Mountain, 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 10.75 x 9 inches; Untitled, 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 10 x 9 inches; Untitled, 2016, Oil and soft pastel on paper, 10 x 7 inches
Mimi Lauter, Untitled, 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 9 x 12 inches
Mimi Lauter, Flower Interior, 2016, Oil pastel, soft pastel on paper, 16 x 12 inches