Insect Gallery
December 14 - January 15, 2020

Press Release

Insect presents Celebration, a group show featuring Theodora Allen, Carrie Cook , Caroline David , Zoe Koke, Liz Lee, and Lila de Magalhaes.

Celebration unfolds within the world of the interior to approach themes of fantasy, femininity, pleasure, nature, nostalgia, and decay.

The show takes its name from Marc Camille Chaimowicz's 1972 installation Celebration? Realife at Gallery House in London. A sensory overload of celebration and decay unfolded there, with trash and cheap lights and a disco ball signaling the aftermath of a party. The artist slept there each night throughout the exhibition, shifting the space psychologically from the extroverted into the personal world of a bedroom interior.

In Theodora Allen's Pollinator, 2019, oil on linen, a nocturnal glow reveals two flowering plants and an insect, framed within a window. It's small scale intimacy expands, trance-like, into a symbolic realm, a mental landscape as earthly as it is mystical. Allen's technique, wherein paint is applied and slowly removed, reveals imagery in hushed tones that can appear embossed, or alternately, barely brushing the surface, as a pollinator brushes a flower. The softness of touch however, is deceptive, for without the pollinator's action, reproduction, and thus, recreation, would be rendered an impossibility.

Carrie Cook's Kiss of Life, 2019, is a site-specific multi-media installation. In Cook's practice she accumulates and assembles personal photographs, foil, and gravel, layering and reconstructing the materials to reimagine narratives and memories into quasi- architectural forms: passageways, columns, and portals. These forms follow and break away from the gallery architecture, like memory aligns and misaligns, moving between nostalgia, longing, and raw experience.

Caroline David's Sheela Na Gig, 2019, re-imagines an enigmatic ancient goddess and fertility figure popularized as an architectural adornment found in Europe and elsewhere.Though scholars disagree on the origins and meaning of these figures, alternately interpreted as goddesses or grotesques, David's treatment of the symbolic femme is self-possessed and whimsical, tough and soft in green and gray.

Zoe Koke's video, Events In Nature, 2019, shot between Marseille, Las Vegas, and Germany, is an accumulation of scenes from public life, witnessed through the camera's lens as a voyeur onto unfamiliar cities. Like a daydream on loop, the handheld camera oscillates at the threshold of wonder and banality, studying its subjects, beachgoers and robots and tourists alike, with soft precision.

In Liz Lee's Escaping the mantle of social coercion boy creating a new mantle to coerce on, winter wolderglam eye, pleasure should be reason enough, hot sand/ orgasm blush palette, nothing can be uncritically divorced, tattoo liner, ~Charts~, I love you because I love you: the glorious end of logical operation, 2019, an impression of the artist's face sits like mist upon the glittering fabric that hangs tentatively from the surface; a dress? A curtain? All bedroom glam in a smoky haze. The face, a specter of lipstick and a traces of a portrait, emerges slowly, and then all at once, glistening like mascara tears damp on a pillow, sparkling away into a dark sky full of stars.

Lila de Magalhaes's Milk and Honey, 2019, embroiders her subject, an insect, in thread onto a dyed fabric. Its delicately embroidered form vibrates and quivers, the eyes comically wide and searching. The insect's kinetic movement seems to harness the materiality of creation, the awe of feelings that arise when deeply engaged in creating. A picture, a feeling, a world taking shape, no longer invisible and, at last, spellbinding in its hyper-real presence.


Veronica Gelbaum

"Scum's Wish"
Shoot The Lobster
July 19 - September 29, 2019

Scum's Wish, Veronica Gelbaum's debut solo show at Shoot the Lobster, is a disquieting delight.

Upon entering the gallery, I encounter four small scale paintings; two of them, a cat and a kitten, gaze out with the composure of an ancestral era, their eyes demonstrably tender. This aura of tenderness rests precariously against the edge of the show's titular painting, Scum's Wish, it's letters a quasi-gothic font against a scratchy haze of blue, which I imagined was the sky. The paintings quiver, their edges soft, and I ponder the ways in which myths and illusions enmesh themselves into reality, transparent as film or slowly accumulating like scum.

Turning around, I encounter a large-scale painting, almost square, simultaneously airy yet lush in detail, depicting a 16th century bucolic landscape. I gaze across the surface of a lake, pristine and shimmering. It occurs to me that Gelbaum's paintings exist within the smudginess and elsewhere-ness of memory, their sensibility uniquely LA, sparkling in the murk.

On the far wall hangs my favorite painting in the exhibition, modest in scale and again, almost square. A few glasses of Arnold palmers or lemonades or, perhaps, orange wine sit tastefully atop a glass table while in the distance, trees move softly in an artificially perfect summer breeze. As I look closer, there are marks on the table which to my eye appear carved in to the glass like patterns drawn by ice skates. While ice would surely melt in the Mediterranean climate occupying these paintings, there is an icy precision and clarity at work here that focuses and contains the images, as if within a summer snow globe.

The works beguile their viewer, coyly aware of their artifice, and I too am aware of this illusion as I exit the gallery and, as if the show had been just a mirage, my mind draws a blank.


Copyright Jessica Williams 2021