The artist’s wide-ranging iconography samples genres ranging from 11th-century Chinese landscape painting to Cubism, and draws on sources both high tech and mundane: spam emails, emoji, internet memes, newspaper classified ads, her own photographs, coloring book illustrations, fantasy environments, vintage embroidery patterns, and a host of whimsical plant and animal motifs. Owens has also appropriated doodles her children make, which, depicted at monumental scale, evoke Abstract Expressionist–like gestures.
Owens, who is currently shortlisted for the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize and the recipient of the 2015 Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, is known for large-scale, vivid paintings that are simultaneously abstract and figurative and embrace both everyday subject matter and art- historical concerns with restless invention. She explores painting in the wake of conceptual art, continually questioning the possibilities of the medium and furthering many concerns explored throughout Western art history—flatness versus depth, materiality versus illusion, the epic versus the everyday, the grid versus the gesture. Owens has described her work as visually onomatopoeic, in a sense that she creates “paintings that look like paintings.” The artist has further noted that “every painting is about how you make a painting.”
A new body of work by Los Angeles–based artist Laura Owens will debut at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Laura Owens: 10 Paintings presents new paintings, artist books, and site-specific, hand-printed wallpaper installations that were created for the presentation and will fill the entire 4,000-square-foot exhibition space, marking the artist’s first solo institutional show in the United States since 2004.