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The natural world is a perennial (pardon the pun) source of artistic inspiration, an old, if occasionally boring, friend who you’re usually happy to see. Perhaps this indicates a shift to ecologically-minded works in a time of changing climate and American institutional dysfunction—the plant as political seductress.
Lauren Davis’ prints at SADE, in her exhibition Unnoosed and Straight, picture limbs beckoning from behind bunches of flora and fruit, each a centrifugal composition with a plant-veiled center—burlesque, of a disembodied sort. Each print appears delicate and hand-drawn at a glance; telltale pixelation upon closer viewing reveals their digital sourcing. Her prints are wall-mounted in a living-room-like tableau; two patches of pinkish-purplish carpeting on the floor host sculptures that occasionally find their way onto low, clear pedestals. The titles of Davis’s prints—While You Were Blooming With Me or There is No Single Face in Nature (all works 2017)—invoke the plant as a magical force, one part The Secret Garden, one part Hildegard of Bingen (see Davis’s Mystery is the Essence of Divinity).
Meanwhile, at floor level, Davis’s sculpture—stoneware-over-textile skeins—suggest hair, knotted rope, cat-sick (take your pick) in their abject formality. Curiouser still are the titles—Of political affiliation not appearance numbers 1 through 7. Davis’ low, vile arrangements consciously offset the comparative elegance of her prints. Their politics, whatever they might be, are less obvious in formal terms than the titles would indicate. Ultimately, Unnoosed and Straight comes off as of two minds: angry, seemingly rushed sculpture clashing with airy, delicate prints. Some kind of sibling rivalry in a carpeted, loosely familial-suburban setting.
Lauren Davis: Unnoosed and Straight runs January 25–February 28, 2018 at SADE (204 S. Avenue 19, Los Angeles, CA 90031).