“INTERIORS: hello from the living room”

1969 Gallery

poster for “INTERIORS: hello from the living room”
[Image: Lois Dodd "Chair, Night Window" (2016) Oil on masonite, 20 x 15 ⅞ in. ©Lois Dodd, courtesy Alexandre Gallery, New York]

This event has ended.

1969 Gallery presents INTERIORS: hello from the living room, a group exhibition of 16 emerging and mid-career painters. This exhibition explores one subject of the global, shared experience of COVID-19: the interior space.

Since the beginning of 2020, people across the world have experienced what it is like to be in quarantine, learning to exist in a completely interior environment. The result has affected everyone in a range of ways, with some longing to escape and return to their regular routines, while others have reevaluated their ways of living. When quarantine began, many people chose to stay in their own homes, weathering the storm from a familiar location; others, for a myriad of reasons, left their lives behind for temporary, but indefinite shelters, as they await the word that it is safe to return. These interior spaces have borne witness to important moments as we have been forced to reflect on our lives and make new discoveries about ourselves.

Many of the artists in this exhibition have personified the objects in their spaces, allowing them to breathe new life. In Gabrielle Garland’s paintings, each piece of the living room furniture has a specific personality. The lush space makes one question if there is drama between the wildly decorated chairs and the more conservative couch — the coffee table is the mediator, preventing living room warfare. The tension illustrates the combustible energy building between roommates and partners, stuck inside without the necessary space away from each other that the external world allows. Lois Dodd’s Chair, Night Window depicts a lonely chair, looking out into the night at the neighboring building. The only signs of life are lit windows, reflecting back onto the chair’s own building. The scene calls to mind the chilling feeling of lockdown, listening to the ambulances drive by, looking out to see if one stops at your building; awaiting news from the outside world. This confrontation of the unknown has also led to a normalized form of voyeurism — looking outside, wondering where the people have gone and why the buildings seem empty.

A common motif in many of the works in the exhibition is that of light and shadow. Sophie Treppendahl and Adrienne Elise Tarver both explore this idea through natural light; specifically sunlight shining into rooms, signifying a passage of time. Treppendahl’s Red Studio is an image of an active artist’s studio, with paintings, stretcher bars and gloves on the floor; depicting one method of passing the time in quarantine: working. Tarver’s paintings both illustrate a residential space with intricate floral wallpaper. In She preferred the mystery of shadows over the disappointment of an empty room, the shape of a figure can be seen in silhouette; stretching or perhaps reaching for something. The image and title both suggest a sense of loneliness at home; finding entertainment and comfort in one’s own shadow on the wall. Amanda Barker’s paintings explore the sublimity of artificial light and shadow, rather than that of nature. With INT. Living Room (The Vast of Night), the sunlight of the day and glimmering of the city lights in the evening has been replaced by dancing lights on the ceiling from a mosaic lamp and a flat screen TV, both illuminating the darkness of the space, like an interior light show.

While many of the artists in the exhibition have quarantined in their own spaces, some were forced to temporarily relocate, leaving behind empty, unchanged spaces within the ever-changing city. Aaron Zulpo’s Thinking of You tackles the idea of relocation. Through a portrait of an apartment building in New York, Zulpo’s painting serves as a time capsule and memory of what was left behind and unchanged within the NYC metamorphosis. Inside the empty building lie fragments of a life put on hold — Valentine’s Day cards, a politician on the television set, a cat walking around before being put in the carrier to leave; outside lies the building exterior, passing cars and ringing ambulances. The choice of depicting the rest of the building as an exterior illustrates the unattainability of the apartment, like an object in a lockbox, only to be accessed by a key: the end of COVID-19.

Each of the artists in this exhibition presents a unique point of view on this shared experience, as explored through the realm of the interior and their personal relationships to the spaces around them.


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