Calida Rawles' mesmerizing paintings
Merging sharp photo-realism with poetic abstraction, Rawles paints African-American women and men submerged in glistening water.
Congratulations Calida Rawles for “A Dream For My Lilith” must-see exhibition at Various Small Fires and thank you for rocking Almasika!
For Frieze LA 2020, Various Small Fires presented a selection of new paintings by the LA-based artist, Calida Rawles for her first solo art fair presentation.
The fair coincided with Rawles’ debut solo exhibition at VSF LA, A Dream for My Lilith, as well as public programming planned with the distinguished writer and journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who collaborated with Rawles for the cover of his newest book release, The Water Dancer.
Merging sharp photo-realism with poetic abstraction, Rawles paints African-American women and men submerged in glistening water; each body swarmed by a flurry of bubbles, ripples and refracted light. For Rawles, water is a spiritually healing element for all people, yet she recognizes its historical connotations to racial exclusion and cultural fears. She uses this complicated duality of water as a platform to address identity politics while reimagining her subjects beyond cultural tropes. At times, her work alludes to specific acts of violence, even making topographical maps of cities and where acts of racially targeted violence have occurred along the body.
In her newest paintings, Rawles dons her subjects, who are often friends and family members, in white clothing that billows underwater, nodding to spiritual rites and rituals. Addressing topics such as colorism, intersectionality and triple consciousness, Rawles’ works are above all a celebration of the resilience, strength, and beauty of African American culture.
IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND VARIOUS SMALL FIRES, LOS ANGELES/ SEOUL.
Frieze Los Angeles & LACMA presented a conversation between author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates and painter Calida Rawles about his new novel The Water Dancer, her most recent body of work, and their exchange around fictional narrative and black figurative imagery. This conversation was moderated by LACMA curator of contemporary art Christine Y. Kim.