Jane Lombard Gallery is pleased to present not a tourist, a solo exhibition of new work from painter Carmen Neely.
Carmen Neely's work has always been about the intricacies of transformation. The artist translates lived experience into nuanced gestures, and these gestures into myriad forms—from sculptures to laser-cut Plexiglass and textiles. Exploding over a flat white ground, her newest paintings play witness to an enigmatic inner world, one that's bursting with energy and kinetic movement. Neely imagines her marks as a type of text—painterly letters or words—and the compositions are themselves sprung from evocative, conversational phrases: You Have to Breath Your Own Mask First, or Heard Quitting and Seen Dancing.
These new pieces gently incorporate older work, appropriating and reinventing gestures in the form of enamel pins or embroidered patches that are subtly affixed to the canvas. The adornments reference the sort of mass-market consumer goods that one might find in a souvenir gift shop while on holiday. Neely explores themes of otherness and difference, through the charged lens of tourism. 'It's a sampling of other's lives for pleasure and entertainment,' the artist says, of our fascination with traveling to new or supposedly foreign places. 'It sits on the shelf as a trophy and commemorates a type of conquest.'
By playing with these layered themes—and troubling the distinction between the painted gesture and its replica, in the form of pin or patch—Neely abstractly tackles her own sense of cultural otherness, 'the sort of fraught, day-to-day manoeuvring historically labeled as 'double consciousness' or 'double identity'. The work is playful, but simultaneously derives from Neely's uncomfortable familiarity with othering; which 'rejects your identity and denies you the right to claim a space as your own', she says. These paintings boldly stake their own claim—one that speaks from an intimately personal position, yet yearns toward the universal.
Press release courtesy Jane Lombard Gallery.