Laura Owens Audio Guide Playlist
Narrator: Owens painted this canvas in 2002.
Scott Rothkopf: I love that Owens was so free to bring into painting ideas of cuteness, of cuddliness, of things maybe that you would remember from a children's book, or a fairy tale that often, I would say, have been excluded from ideas about important contemporary art, at least in America, or the West. On the other hand, she is dealing with a lot of complicated notions about painting in itself. You see so many creative, surprising ways that she's touching the canvas. Whether she's dyeing with thin washes, color directly into the linen. At other times she's putting down a very hard ground, like in the tree trunks and then smearing paint very thinly on the surface. Sometimes dobs, like you find in the flowers or the leaves push off the surface in a way that almost seems to contradict the receding space of the water and the sky.
Owens and her friend, the artist Scott Reeder, used to joke about the idea of maximalism, which of course is the opposite of minimalism in art, but in this case it was a kind of maxanimalism. How many animals could you fit into a painting for it to still work, for it to be taken seriously, for it not to become too goofy or go over the edge.
Laura Owens, Untitled, 2002. Acrylic and oil on linen, 84 x 132 in. (213.4 x 335.3 cm). © Laura Owens