Laura Owens

Solo en Inglès

blue and pink abstract line painting

Narrator: These paintings are quite large, but it’s worth getting up close to their surfaces and looking at them carefully. Writer Kirsty Bell describes seeing them when Owens first showed them.

Kirsty Bell: It was like several different layers going on at the same time and one of them was this very thick three-dimensional daubs of paint on the surface. She then painted these drop shadows beneath them. So, they became this kind of super smart and witty description of the act of painting itself.

And this gesture then became a signature gesture for her, but then they'd also used screen-printing. She developed this method of screen-printing with charcoal and used the basis of these classified ads into this one layer that goes throughout all of the works, also bringing in many references to the history of painting but also the content was working on this kind of witty, funny level.

Narrator: Owens nicknamed the series Pavement Karaoke. It was a kind of joke, stemming from the fact that Owens loved the idea of doing karaoke to songs by the band Pavement.

Calvin Marcus: Such a thing as “Pavement karaoke” was too emo to actually exist; the irony is funny to her.

Narrator: Calvin Marcus is an artist who worked as one of Owens’ studio assistants during this time.

Calvin Marcus: It was supposed to coincide with an actual event where people would get together and do cringey karaoke that was music that didn’t sound so good—it wasn’t hits, it wasn’t hits, it wasn’t “Tears for Fears” or whatever.

Narrator: Asha Schechter conducted oral histories that are transcribed for the catalogue that accompanies this exhibition. This recording is drawn from his interviews.


Laura Owens, Untitled, 2012. Acrylic, oil, vinyl paint, resin, pumice, and fabric on canvas, 108 x 84 in. (274.3 x 213.4 cm) LAC. © Laura Owens