Mi Kafchin and Stuart Lorimer at Lyles & King

Artists: Mi Kafchin and Stuart Lorimer

Exhibition title: Mi Kafchin: Between Nights / Stuart Lorimer: Drama

Venue: Lyles & King, New York, US

Date: February 18  – March 18, 2018

Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Lyles & King

Mi Kafchin: Between Nights

What is the architecture of psychic space? What is the depth of the foundation of a house in a dream? How sandy or laced with clay is the soil in our fantasies? How wide are the rivers? How high are the mountains? In Mi Kafchin’s work these question are not metaphors, but formal concerns. Kafchin is surveyor, architect, and brick-layer of an effulgent inner world; the dream place.

In Sleep (Forehead Operation), a surgeon’s scalpel peels back the artist’s skin, revealing a creamy void, above a face as smooth and impassive as any of Brancusi’s marble dozers. The barrier between the sleeper’s mind and her outer world has been breached and we join Kafchin in her dreams.

Of course we recognize the architecture here: it floats on air, it dissolves, it is both a ruin and a construction site. We are familiar with the spatial and temporal laws of dreams: the axonometric perspective, the collision of past and future. We comprehend its language and symbology: the avalanche of tropes and archetypes, the landmarks of our childhood, the scurrying, furry forms of our anxieties.

It has been Kafchin’s rule since childhood that her self-portraits may only be rendered from memory or imagination, no mirrors or photographic references allowed. She slips in and out of her paintings in various guises, appearing as a wanderer, a surgical patient, and a sexless cybernetic warrior of the future. Her preference for interior vision over observational drawing reveals a desire embedded at the work’s core — the dream of a self-sustaining body and mind.

Notice, The Self Sufficient Plant shows a blossoming pot of flowers watering itself. In The Fountain with Bats, the fountain, though clogged with algal blooms, refills itself endlessly, a closed loop. End of the World (Vaginoplasty) depicts a body under the knife, genitals flayed; yet the flesh contains all the necessary parts, the requisite nerves, ducts and blood vessels, to be fully transformed while still remaining whole.

Crossing Transylvania shows Kafchin in full hiking kit, guided by a map and compass and protected by a retinue of cherubs. The title, both a nod to her Romanian roots and a wink at her identity as a trans woman, signals a journey in progress. Across the river, the Brutalist apartment blocs of Kafchin’s childhood home cover the hill, while a collection of eccentric new construction fills the valley, and Le Corbusier’s Modulor Man raises his arm like a lonely sentinel. The artist stands, graceful yet perplexed, at the riverbank, looking back at this strange landscape. She has everything she needs to navigate, and yet, as is so often the case in dreams, her map is blank.

Essay by Ariela Gittlen

Mi Kafchin’s (b. 1986, Galați, Romania) first New York solo exhibition will consist of 10 oil paintings on canvas, cardboard, and wood. She has had solo exhibitions at The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest; Museum of Art, Cluj; Galerie Judin, Berlin; Gaudel de Stampa, Paris. She has exhibited in group exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; New Museum, New York; MuMoK – Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; MAK – Österreichisches Museumfür angewandte Kunst / Gegenwartskunst, Vienna; Espace Louis Vuitton, Paris; Palazzo Bonvicini, Venice. She lives in Berlin and is represented by Galerie Judin, Berlin.

Stuart Lorimer: Drama

Lyles and King is proud to present Drama, Stuart Lorimer’s second exhibition for the project room. In his new narrative paintings, Lorimer captures an intense psychology and theatricality, as though choreographing scenes for the stage or for film. Solid blocks of color and pattern act as dramatic sets where his curious scenarios unfold: an ecstatic couple dance in the street; solitary figures swipe iPhones to pass the time; pianos and their players duel in a seeming musical interlude. Lorimer has a way of collecting visual observations onto the canvas, collapsing fact and fiction into one another, with equal parts humor and sincerity. Often his compositions are peppered with foreboding or symbolic details (a red-white-and-blue concrete mixer, for example).

The paintings aren’t political per se, but feel wrapped up in a kind of allegory or existential worry. His subjects are carefully rendered, pensive, and bolstered by details perhaps pulled from painting history, pop culture, or news imagery. There’s something tenuous to the canvases, revisionist, graphite lines left exposed and objects rendered in charcoal, as though the characters and their stories could participate in their own making.

Stuart Lorimer (b. 1985, Scotland) lives in New York. He has exhibited at CANADA, New York; Ceysson & Bénétiére, Luxembourg; and Eddy’s Room, Brooklyn. This is his second exhibition with Lyles & King, New York.

Mi Kafchin: Between Nights, 2018, exhibition view, Lyles & King, New York

Mi Kafchin: Between Nights, 2018, exhibition view, Lyles & King, New York

Mi Kafchin: Between Nights, 2018, exhibition view, Lyles & King, New York

Mi Kafchin: Between Nights, 2018, exhibition view, Lyles & King, New York

Mi Kafchin: Between Nights, 2018, exhibition view, Lyles & King, New York

Mi Kafchin: Between Nights, 2018, exhibition view, Lyles & King, New York

Mi Kafchin, Crossing Transylvania, 2018, Oil on canvas, 191 x 179 cm, 75 x 70.5 inches

Mi Kafchin, Scared Self Portrait, 2017, Oil on wood, 38 x 44 cm, 15 x 17.5 inches

Mi Kafchin, Self-Sufficient Plant, 2016, Oil on canvas, 181 x 126 cm, 71.25 x 50 inches

Mi Kafchin, Sleep (forehead operation), 2017, Oil on wood, 91 x 125 cm, 36 x 49 inches

Mi Kafchin, Treasures in the Dark, 2017, Oil on canvas, 80.2 x 100 cm, 31.5 x 39.5 inches

Mi Kafchin, The Fountain with Bats, 2017, Oil on wood, 108 x 78 cm, 42.5 x 31 inches

Mi Kafchin, Roulette in Monte Carlo, 2017, Oil on cardboard, 79 x 75 cm, 31 x 29.5 inches

Mi Kafchin, End of the World (Vaginoplasty), 2017, Oil on wood, 50.7 x 61.6 cm, 20 x 24.25 inches

Mi Kafchin, Galati, Danube and my Dreams, 2018, Oil on canvas, 150 x 190 cm, 59 x 75 inches

Stuart Lorimer, A Train Can Hide Another From It, 2018, Oil and charcoal on canvas, 48 x 54 inches

Stuart Lorimer, Working Hands, 2018, Oil and charcoal on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

Stuart Lorimer, Wink In and Out of Existence, 2018, Oil and charcoal on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

Stuart Lorimer, Sweet Sorrow, 2018, Oil and charcoal on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Stuart Lorimer, Drama, 2018, Oil and charcoal on canvas, 30 x 26 inches