MERGED WITHOUT EDGE
June 4 – July 9, 2022
Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to present MERGED WITHOUT EDGE, a presentation of work by Los Angeles-based artist Cindy Phenix. Her third solo exhibition with the gallery comprises new paintings and sculptural installations, and will be on view in Los Angeles from June 4 – July 9, 2022.
In MERGED WITHOUT EDGE, Phenix works across painting and sculpture to transform the gallery into a fantastical, eclectic cacophony of hybridized figures pulled from mythology, folklore, and nature. Representations of malice and danger dramatize distortions of authority and ambition in a hostile world. Interactions between kings and queens, monsters and spirits, sportsmen and children are tinged with a mixture of horror and humor, reflecting the darker nature of power struggles that saturate even the most innocuous of games. Phenix's oil on linen works are complemented by mixed media sculptures coated in gold leaf that bring the fractalized forms found in her paintings to life in the space.
The flat, kaleidoscopic surfaces in MERGED WITHOUT EDGE begin as digital collages. Phenix deforms imagery pulled from a variety of sources into various degrees of abstraction. Photographs captured of her own life are juxtaposed with representations of wildlife, flora and fauna, and art historical quotations from paintings by Hieronymus Bosch to Pieter Bruegel and Odilon Redon. Projected onto linen, Phenix then traces the contours of these figures and shapes, using pareidolia—our tendency to see figural elements in technically abstract stimuli—to keep our gaze engaged in a protracted dance across her surfaces. Finally, Phenix paints sections of the lattice-like webs that result from her traces.
Topographically, Phenix’s surfaces range from untouched linen to thick, heavy impasto. In some areas, globules and scrapes of heavily worked paint protrude out from and hang off of her paintings, creating an abundant, almost grotesque, excess of materiality. In others, negative space produced by either a black background wash or blank canvas dominates. The rest of Phenix’s oils are used to fill in her figures and the bleeding edges of their worlds, none of which are painted to completion. Phenix’s canvases therefore crystalize the trajectory of a life in paint, from its potential—a mere trace suggesting form—to its expiration—the buildup of paint which effaces form. In between, men, women, ghouls, and goblins are pieced together for long enough to play with each other, succumbing to various degrees of manipulation and cruelty.
MERGED WITHOUT EDGE therefore offers two types of breakdowns: breakdowns of physicality and materiality that occur throughout the paintings’ surfaces, and of distinctions between humanity and monstrosity that occur within them. Thinking alongside Donna Haraway’s notion of the cyborg as a collection of disparate, incongruent parts, Phenix decenters the human and its contingent structures of identity in her work, instead constructing rich conglomerations of beings of all kinds, from monsters to angels. Mythological figures such as grim reapers and gods who control the elements stand alongside men cowering in horror and monsters lining up like soldiers. Aligning posthuman monstrosity and mythological archetypes, Phenix aims her brushstrokes at the ever-churning wheel that sees their birth and death, death and rebirth.
Cindy Phenix (b. 1989 in Montreal, lives and works in Los Angeles) received her MFA in Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University in Evanston in 2020 and her BFA with distinction from Concordia University in Montreal in 2016. Her work has been exhibited at Stewart Hall Art Gallery, Montreal, CA; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, US; Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles, US; 6018|North, Chicago, US; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, CA; and Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Montreal, CA. Phenix’s works are part of private collections in the US and Canada including Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec and Hydro-Québec.