For the past twenty years, artist Laura Owens has pursued an ambitious and experimental practice that expands painting’s methods and means of presentation. In collaboration with technicians and assistants, Owens researches and develops new viscosities of paint, new techniques to dye fabric, and methods for hybridizing screen printing and painting. Her earlier works initially employed decorative motifs from both Western and Eastern aesthetic vocabularies alongside references from high art painting traditions. More recently, she has attempted to reimagine the systems of contemporary image production, proposing a vital relationship between the physical process of painting and the circulation of digital images.
In Untitled, 2015, Owens uses computer software programs developed in the late 1990s to explore the equation of painterly brushstrokes and the pixel. To this, she adds images of birds—both painted and printed in low-resolution blurs—to create an allover composition. Much of Owen’s work is site specific, with size and subject matter influenced by the gallery’s architecture and context. Untitled, 2015, was designed based on an architectural frieze, creating an unbalance between the exaggeratedly lite subject matter and the permanence of architecture.
This work significantly augments the ICA/Boston’s painting collection while also building on strategies of artists such as Sherrie Levine and Cady Noland that introduce notions of the painterly, the decorative, and the use of digital circulation of images into their work.