February 3-26, 2022
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 3, 5:30-7:30 PM
Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Bloom, an exhibition of recent art by Lisa McCutcheon, on view during the month of February. McCutcheon’s mixed-media works layer and merge photographic imagery with painted elements on semi-transparent mylar and hand-drawn details to create spontaneous, lyrical constructions that whirl and ricochet, achieving a harmony of opposites.
McCutcheon’s imagery is shot through with references to flora, fauna, and geology, among other natural elements that are “drawn,” she explains, “from deep observation in the natural environment surrounding my home.” Each series introduces a unifying feature, such as close-up photographs of tree trunks, to distinguish it from prior series, create cohesion, and establish an entry point for contemplation. In two of her most recent series, Tumble and Swirl, McCutcheon interlays hydrangea petals or leaves and feathers (those of the chickens she raises in her own backyard), respectively. Despite the inclusion of familiar imagery, the collages push and pull between representation and abstraction. Her photographs, which she prints on a silk-like fabric, are dramatically cropped and reoriented so that the larger context from which her subject originated remains unknown. Such ambiguity and mystery are both heightened by the fluidity of her painting and held in tension by the precision of her drawing. These are not self-evident works but rather highly layered narratives that unfold in a shifting, nonlinear manner, offering viewers dazzling tableaux of visual interest while never fully revealing themselves.
The expressionism McCutcheon achieves is driven by her use of vibrant color, the harmony she creates between the calm of vast negative space and the energy of her maximalist forms, and the inescapable rhythms these forms generate. Each work resonates with a measured, lyrical energy, as if set to an inaudible score. In Tumble Series 1 (2021), for instance, the larger floral mass on the left appears to be moving toward the upper left corner, shedding floral elements as it swirls along its trajectory, while the midsize mass on the right ostensibly dances in soft circles, awaiting its next sequence; these and other moving bodies each hum with their own unique melody. But the rhythms are not fixed and all is open to interpretation; as with her imagery, the exact course of the arrangements straddles the gulf between the knowable and unknowable.
McCutcheon explains that the work is “process-driven and starts a certain way and proceeds with a laid-out set of rules that does not feel as if I am letting rhythm or fluidity take hold until later,” when each piece finally comes together. This is true “especially in the space between each form, where there has to be a conversation between each element as one curves around the next. Or in the overlapping elements in the piece.” Relationships between the images, textures, and colors, as well as the positive and negative spaces, emerge as she layers her materials, creating spontaneous forms that both captivate and beguile the eye.
Lisa McCutcheon earned her MFA in painting in 2001 from the San Francisco Art Institute and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has exhibited across the United States, including in Paper-Cuts, a large-scale invitational collage show at the Palo Alto Art Center, as well as in an exhibition at the Spartanburg Art Museum, South Carolina. She has furthermore exhibited as part of Dolby Chadwick Gallery’s group shows Here and Now, Lightning Strikes, and Lightning Strikes II, and curated the November 2021 exhibition at San Francisco’s Root Division. This will be her first solo exhibition at Dolby Chadwick Gallery.