American artist Christina Quarles (b. 1985) lives and works in Los Angeles.
She creates surreal and deliberately ambiguous images of bodies that seem barely contained by the frame of the canvas. This display at the South London Gallery brings together Quarles’s vibrant and textured paintings, as well as works on paper, and is her first solo exhibition in a major London institution.
The figures in Quarles’s expressive, large-scale paintings are an embodiment of her own perspective on the world and she has described them as conveying ‘the experience of living in a body rather than looking at a body.’ Entwined bodies are set against abstracted environments, facial features are obscured and skin is rendered in a spectrum of shifting colour. The ways in which her painted bodies elude definition is a reflection of her own experience of being misread or misrepresented as a queer cis woman, born to a black father and white mother.
Eight of Quarles’s paintings including For a Flaw/ For a Fall/ For the End, 2018 and Sumday (We Gunna Rest on) Sunday, 2019 are on display in the SLG’s Main Gallery alongside a selection of the artist’s drawings. In these works on paper, fragments of text often taken from songs or poems intersect with bodies and reveal some of the literary, musical and autobiographical references that underpin her work.
This exhibition was organised by The Hepworth Wakefield.
Installation view of Christina Quarles: In Likeness, 2021. Photo: Andy Stagg. Carefully Taut, 2019 courtesy Ovitz Family Collection, Los Angeles.