Emma Schwartz: who’s who
5426 Monte Vista St
Los Angeles, CA 90042
In Lieu is pleased to present who's who, an exhibition of new paintings by Nashville-raised and New York-based artist Emma Schwartz. This is the artist’s first exhibition in Los Angeles and with the gallery.
My sister’s paintings for who’s who, bring the viewer into the neighborhood and rooms where we grew up. Her paintings feature ranch-style homes and the historied land they sit on, amidst images of look-alike spectral young women occupying intimate childhood spaces. The figures are not my sister, but resemble her - they are siblings; individuals with shared experiences and features, but entirely unique persons. They are fragments/fractals/shards.
Emma sees the house and household as arenas where both personal and cultural narratives develop and play out; where traditions originate and are redefined. In the painting false friend (a linguistics term for words that appear to have the same origin, but do not) a house is nestled into its landscape at the very top of the canvas. This reminds me of what archaeologists call a stratigraphic section: the visual timeline created by the sequential deposition of cultural layers, one on top of the other, in the same place over time. If we start at the bottom and work our way up, we can view how a place was built, changed, destroyed, settled, and abandoned, by taking note of what we find in each of these layers. Down the street, a recently built Cape Dutch monstrosity bares its teeth, occluding the history of its property.
Several of the titles of my sister’s paintings (false friends, hate to break it to you, i kid you not) make reference to idioms, and like “false friends”, the girls she paints look like they share close etymological roots. In fact, this is a misconception, and they developed entirely independently of one another. Through convergent evolution they’ve come to a resemblance, and in their current forms share much meaning. But their origins, shrouded in the past, (but in some mythical sense, my sister) were initially separate.
Built up through the layering of paint, charcoal, chalk, and pastel, the surfaces of Emma’s paintings have a fresco-like topography that references the villas of the ancient Roman world. Places like Pompeii and Herculaneum, where wall paintings intertwine daily life with mythology. In the most visceral way, temporality is twisted in on itself as the last frozen moments of these places spiral into the present.
Emma Schwartz (b. 1992, Toronto, Canada) lives and works New York City. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014 and her MFA from Columbia University in 2019. She has had solo exhibitions at Annarummagallery (Naples) and Chapter (New York City) and has been included in recent group exhibitions at Thierry Goldberg Gallery (New York City), Christian Anderson (Copenhagen), In Lieu (Los Angeles), Circle Contemporary (Chicago), FALSE FLAG (New York City), Y2K (New York City), The Hole (New York City) and DUPLEX (New York City), among others. In 2019 she received the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Venice Award.