Derek Eller Gallery presents White Lies, an exhibition of new paintings by Despina Stokou.
The immediacy of information in the digital era is central to Stokou’s work. With dense layers of text and visceral marks, she accurately captures the cacophony of our current political and social climate. In these paintings and throughout her practice, language is sourced from various public (primarily online) platforms. Excerpts from Twitter posts, interviews, and political commentary are quoted and presented in dizzying chromatic gestures, varying in degrees of legibility and coherence. With this new body of paintings, Stokou also employs a blocking technique, wherein broad white strokes further erase or silence the points of view represented within.
Central to the exhibition is #AmericaIn3Words, a large painting stretched seamlessly over three panels. Stokou describes the process of making this painting as almost trancelike, stating “This was not a planned work, I blinked and it was in the studio.” A hashtag that shares the same name asked participants to describe the United States with three words. This hashtag began trending around July 4, 2018 after news of the family separation policy at the southern border began to permeate the public conscience. The exercise elicited a variety of responses on Twitter which Stokou has collected on these canvases. “America Still Racist,” “Children in Cages,” “Can’t Afford Gas” and “Guns over Government” are each individual responses which born of far flung ethos, collectively capture the political rage of this specific moment in history.
Here and throughout her work, Stokou does not shy away from challenging subjects, but chooses instead to confront them with an energetic physicality. White supremacy, systemic sexism, cultural violence and the complacency of art world participants are also addressed in the work of this exhibition. Presenting these topics as boldly painted canvases rife with text which struggles to be intelligible, Stokou highlights the notion that society’s online debates may be loud and brash, while the voices of the disenfranchised remain unheard, effectively hidden in plain sight.
White Lies will be Stokou’s fourth solo exhibition at Derek Eller Gallery. In 2018, she mounted solo exhibitions at Praz-Delavallade, Los Angeles and Dio Horia Gallery, Mykonos, Greece. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Kunsteverein Gera, Gera; Five Car Garage, Los Angeles; The KW Art Institute, Berlin; The Pit, Los Angeles; Gagosian Gallery, Athens; Ibid, Los Angeles; Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York; Eigen + Art, Berlin; and Krinzinger Projekte, Vienna.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)