Stay with me
In celebration of the new Gallery Association of Los Angeles (GALA) and the launch of its digital forum GALLERYPLATFORM.LA, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to present Stay with me, a selection of works by Gabriel Sanchez, Carla Jay Harris, and Lia Halloran—and a preview of our summer exhibition. Reflecting upon this peculiar moment of collective stillness and contemplation, the three artists depict the human figure in the company of others and in isolation. Stay with me bridges the challenging events of this world and invites us to enter into a deeper awareness of our human nature and existence, allowing us to experience our transcendent unity.
Gabriel Sanchez’s new paintings explore dialogues between solitude and intimacy, and proximity and union that are ever-present in Cuban society. Each painting captures a small scene of mundane events that occur daily on the island. In these snapshots the distractions of urban life are minimized, and our attention is brought to bear on one particular and present moment. Sanchez’s use of realism produces “an authentic and inescapable illusion of existence” and brings the viewer into a closer relationship with his subject. The figures portrayed—a lover, family, friends, and acquaintances—serve as depictions of the stoic nature of Cuban culture that has changed little over time and also as reminders to the world of what has been lost. In the painting “Mirando al Mundo” Sanchez uses the three nude figures as a stand-in for the tri-colors of the Cuban flag, which also reflect the racial and ethnic history of Cuba: white, blue (black), and red (mulatto).
In her most recent body of work, Celestial Bodies, Carla Jay Harris draws inspiration from her experience as a “third culture kid.” Harris spent a significant part of her youth living outside the United States—primarily in Italy and Germany. According to the artist, “this was a surreal experience that permanently shifted my perception of belonging.” Othered by race, language, culture, and nationality, she was drawn to mythology which has become central to her work. Throughout history, mythology has served humankind's desire to understand its surroundings, nature, and society. Through myth-making Harris taps into a sense of belonging that extends from notions of kinship to universal cultural concerns and narratives.
For many years, Lia Halloran’s studio practice has been in dialogue with science and nature. She interweaves ideas about sexuality, intimacy, and physical movement in projects whose subjects range from astrophysics to perception to classification to interconnected relativity. In these ink on vellum works Halloran presents an investigation into the human form and the passage of time where flesh undergoes a metamorphosis into crystallized figures. What begins as a dual depiction of close friends and crystal forms becomes a “negotiation” of action and reaction via ink—an image that fluctuates between strict representation, the intangible object, and the inherent fluidity of the medium. Some subjects are fully realized as human figures; others are camouflaged into the hardened natural elements, and manifest a kind of dormant but sensually charged dialogue that expresses the universal and intimate qualities of each.
Halloran’s Your Body is a SpaceThat Sees is a series of large-scale cyanotype works that source the history and discoveries of a group of women known as ‘Pickering’s Harem’, or later the ‘Harvard Computers’, who worked at the Harvard Observatory starting in the late 1800s through the first half of the 20th century. This group made significant impacts in the field of astronomy by using photographic glass plates to establish classification systems for the size, brightness and chemical content of stars. Halloran’s research for this series was done in partnership with the Harvard University Archive, which houses the world’s largest collection of historic astronomical photographic plates. The artist identified specific plates used by these women and utilized them as a reference for her large ink-on-drafting film paintings, which she employed as negatives in the creation of the cyanotypes. Halloran pays tribute to these women by including their names and their discoveries in the titles of the works.