press release

David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present Lesley Vance's second solo exhibition Finer Days. The opening reception will be held on Friday, June 1st from 6 to 9pm, and the exhibition will be on view through July 21st. Vance’s new paintings feature delicate organic forms detached from their natural context and re-examined as spare still lives.

Vance’s intimate compositions, comprised of shells, horns, coral, and flowers in bloom or decay, are painted luminously against otherwise darkened space. The scenes appear precarious and temporary; isolated organic forms are placed in a state of suspension, the dark veiling their supporting structure. The smallness of scale and darkness of the paintings heightens their sense of intimacy. Vance’s enamel-like surfaces, at times brittle, porous, or wilting, emerge from varied painterly gestures.

Vance expands upon the traditions and refinements of the still life genre, but employs the discourse of contemporary painting to reinterpret it. Her unassuming compositions draw on the works of 17th century Spanish painters Juan Sanchez Cotán and Francisco de Zurburán, who painted minimal arrangements of everyday objects. These were conceived as exercises in the renunciation of material desires, in contrast to the emphasis on abundance present in the work of their Dutch counterparts. Vance’s works mirror the quality of still lives described by Norman Bryson in his essay Rhopography: “[Still life] attends to the world ignored by the human impulse to create greatness. The human figure, with all its fascination, is expelled. Narrative - the drama of greatness - is banished.”* Brushing aside narrative and context, Vance lavishes attention upon natural forms, her illuminated objects skillfully articulating the complexities of the genre.

The clusters of forms in her paintings frequently contradict the natural order of things, allowing for a more poetic configuration of flora and fauna: a peony twisted around a piece of driftwood or scarlet coral rising vein-like behind a gathering of vacant mussels. Vance revels in the deep cadmium of a poppy, the fragility of a white petal, or the waxy stiffness of an orchid leaf. Her study and arrangement of organic forms express the dynamic tension between life's beauty and its fleeting nature.

Lesley Vance will have a two-person exhibition with Ricky Swallow at The Suburban, Oak Park, IL in 2008. She has exhibited at Ancient & Modern, London, England (2006), Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, England (2006), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL(2005), and Grimm Rosenfeld Gallery, Munich, Germany (2004).

*Bryson, Norman, Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting, Reaktion Books, 1990

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Lesley Vance
Finer Days