Christina Quarles's expressive, large-scale paintings of androgynous, entwined figures seek to challenge assumptions surrounding identity and the human figure.Read More
Born in Chicago and raised by her mother in Los Angeles, Quarles attended figure drawing classes in after-school programmes and at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts from an early age. Receiving a BA in Studio Arts and Philosophy from Hampshire College, Massachusetts, Quarles went on to complete her MFA at Yale School of Art in 2016.
Born to a white mother and a Black father, Quarles' surreal figurative paintings express her experience of ambiguity as a queer cis multiracial woman. Her disorganised, angular bodies layered onto one another with obscured facial features seek to portray the 'experience of living within a racialised body, or living within a queer body rather than what it is to look at a racialised or queer body,', encouraging viewers to dismantle their understanding of fixed identity.
Quarles' practice covers both large-scale paintings and small-scale drawings. For her large-scale works, Quarles sketches her figures onto the canvas, which she then photographs before digitally mapping out the background that her figures inhabit. Her bright, psychedelic backgrounds of patterned surfaces and angular planes are then stencilled onto the canvas, leaving large portions of her work blank, and transforming the surface of her canvases into a work akin to a relief sculpture.
While her earlier works are characterised by their inclusion of text and written phrases, Quarles' more recent works have replaced text in favour of patterns and an experimental use of line, as seen in E'reything (Will Be All Right) Everything (2018), Tilt/Shift (2020), and Innocence Lost/In a Sense, Lost (2020), among others.
The past couple of years have marked a significant breakthrough in Quarles' career with major international museum shows in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Christina Quarles: In Likeness opened at The Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire in 2019, marking her first solo exhibition in a European museum. The exhibition, which included eight paintings and a selection of drawings, travelled on to the South London Gallery in 2021.
In the spring of 2021, Shanghai's X Museum ran Christina Quarles: Dance by tha Light of tha Moon, the artist's first solo exhibition at a major museum in Asia. Alongside this, recent works and a large-scale installation graced the walls of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago in 2021, travelling on to Seattle's Frye Art Museum in2022.
Quarles' unique practice has been met with growing demand on both the primary and secondary market, with prices skyrocketing past their auction estimates. Notably, her secondary-market debut saw her work Pull on Thru the Night (2017) surpass its $30,000 low estimate eight-fold, selling for $255,000 at a Phillips Evening Sale in 2018.
Represented by London-based Pilar Corrias since 2018, the mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth announced its global representation of the artist in May 2021 with her debut solo exhibition at the gallery scheduled for autumn 2022.
Christina Quarles' solo exhibitions include Dance by the Light of tha Moon, X Museum, Beijing (2021); I Won't Fear Tumbling or Falling/If We'll Be Joined in Another World, Pilar Corrias, London (2020); But I Woke Jus' Tha Same, Regen Projects, Los Angeles (2019); Always Brightest Before Tha Dusk, Pilar Corrias London (2018); Christina Quarles: Made in L.A., Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018).__
Christina Quarles' group exhibitions include Fugitive Bodies, San Jose Museum of Art (2021); My Body, My Rules, Perez Art Museum Miami (2020); Drawing 2020, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2020); Don't Let This Be Easy, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2020); Alien vs. Citizen, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2020); Love Letter to a Nightmare, Petzel Gallery, New York (2020); Paint Also Known as Blood, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2019); Stonewall 50, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2019); Made in LA, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Abstract/Not Abstract, Gagosian, Miami (2017); Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, New Museum, New York (2017).__
Annabel Downes | Ocula | 2021
Artist Christina Quarles' list of firsts, including her solo show at South London Gallery, spell the start of something big.
Filipe da Costa Leite curates a selection of artworks from Ocula's gallery platform, providing an insight into his collecting habits.