ARMATURE: New Paintings by Liz Ainslie
June 23 – July 30, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday June 23, 6–9pm
In his essay In Praise of Earnestness Clay Matlin writes the following about Liz Ainslie's paintings:
"Earnestness is hard. It is troubling, off-putting even, because it makes those who are suspicious of it suspicious of their own feelings. Earnestness requires a suspension of the surety that our contemporary culture gets from ironic detachment. To be earnest is to believe that things matter, that there are things worth believing in. It is a weapon against the creeping nihilism that greets us everywhere in 2017.
This is not to argue, however, that Ainslie’s paintings are aching with sincerity. Nor are they saccharine, or kitsch. Kitsch is not earnest feeling, but, as Clement Greenberg taught us, the simulacrum of earnestness. It is feeling without the risk feeling entails. Ainslie’s paintings, in contrast, are authentic and humane. They are not sweet and easy. They can be difficult, even aggressive in their abstraction, leaving the viewer with little illusion of depth, the space of her images hard to read. Her earnestness resides not in how the work reach out to us to connect, for it does nothing of the sort, but as a testament to Ainslie’s unwavering commitment to abstraction. She neither brings in hints of the world of experience, nor tries to tell us a story. Instead, Ainslie, reluctant heir to 1940’s–high modernism, believes, as Greenberg did, that the painting itself—how it is painted, the way the paint sits on the canvas, how it becomes and embraces its objectness—is the subject matter. This is not to say we look into the painting to find meaning. Rather, the painting reveals meaning to us in our experience of it. This is an old-fashioned, perhaps even outdated, idea. Yet it takes courage to believe earnestly in the power of paint to communicate meaning."
". . . Ainslie’s paintings are a deliberate attempt to find something to believe in. Ainslie accepts what she calls the “futility in trying to make something new.” She chooses not to lash out at this reality—as so much of post-modernism is an assault on the cruelty of our own lack of originality—but receives the truth of this limitation as a moment to believe that each “mark you make or video you shoot or performance you do is actually taking place in its own moment. The moment is all you can really own.” In believing the act of painting is a deliberate move to claim a moment for oneself, Ainslie does the difficult work of trying to make the experience of painting—the doing and the observing—a fully realized act. In essence, she is trying to share with the viewer the same experience she had when she made her own painting, what Barnett Newman saw as the shared communication of “a sense of place.”
Liz Ainslie was born in Schenectady, NY in 1978. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received an MFA from Tyler School of Art in 2004 and a BFA from Alfred University in 2001. Ainslie has had solo shows at Airplane, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Creon Gallery in Manhattan. Her work has been included in shows at Station Independent Projects, Lu Magnus, Sla307 and Spazio 522 in Manhattan; Orgy Park, Ground Floor Gallery, Outlet Fine Art, Ventana244, Centotto, Parallel Art Space, Small Black Door, Sardine, Trestle Gallery and A.I.R. gallery in Brooklyn; Valentine in Ridgewood, Queens; Vox Populi and Ice Box Project Space in Philadelphia; BCB Fine Art and Imogen Holloway in upstate New York, and Gallerie Kritiku, Prague, Czech Republic. Her work has been reviewed in Il Giornale Dell'Arte, ArtCal Zine, and The GC Advocate. Interviews with Ainslie can be found on blogs including And Freedom For, Pencil in the Studio, #fffffff Walls, Standard Interview, and Otino Corsano. Her work is included in the Pierogi Flat Files. Ainslie was a member of the faculty at School of the Alternative in 2017, a resident artist at Millay Colony for the Arts in 2011, and Atlantic Center for the Arts in 2006.