February 15–March 18, 2023
Bel Ami, Los Angeles, CA
Brick Wall brings together the diverse practices of three painters: Whitney Claflin, Andy Meerow, and Ann Zhao. The exhibition takes its name from a painting by Claflin, inspired by a fictional “Sip N Paint” scene on TV, in which amateur painters practice while loosening their inhibitions. Red marks across Claflin’s eponymous painting derive from the range of interpretations of a brick wall by these hobbyists, an exercise the artist undertook to refresh her own ingrained gestures.
Whitney Claflin’s paintings are imbued with both the duration of their making and details of the artist’s lived experience. Her abstractions comprise a swell of deliberate and strategic marks plotted over time, testifying to memory and mood—at times even accessorized with the artist’s own jewelry or clothes, or emblazoned with brand names that pepper her daily life (Juul, Sour Diesel, Etnies, the obscure fashion labels of Savers thrift stores). The paintings in Brick Wall draw inspiration from Claflin’s iPhone screen, her cat Veeza, middle school fashion, HBO’s South Side, her own history with painting and the repertoires of those fresh to the practice.
Andy Meerow’s large scale diptychs mine the visual language of the urban landscape, from sleek contemporary advertising to the utilitarian signage of public infrastructure and the ambient scrawl of tagging. The artist works on multiple panels at once, rotating and recombining them in his studio to subvert both his own intentionality and that of his found subjects. In doing so, he gradually empties the vocabularies he adopts, enacting the unraveling of legibility as the city suspends us between so many degraded messages.
Through an economy of means, Ann Zhao’s paintings achieve an understated shrewdness. A pair of tightly scaled paintings comprise clusters of sesame seeds applied to gessoed linen, pitting density against openness and conflating readymade elements with mark making. The ostensive angst of her text paintings (“I am useless”; “Darling, I suffer. Please help me.”) is offset by the clarity of their execution, and, with the latent spirituality of titles such as My hero is a tree, Zhao reveals their tone to be one of acceptance rather than anxiety.
Whitney Claflin lives and works in New York. Solo and two-person exhibitions include Derosia, New York (forthcoming); Drei, Cologne (2022, 2020, 2019); Bodega (Derosia), New York (2020); and Central Fine, Miami (2019). Selected group exhibitions include Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2023); Clearing, Brussels (2022); Derosia (Bodega), New York (2021, 2019); Shoot the Lobster, New York (2020); Galerie Buchholz, New York (2019); Greene Naftali, New York (2018); and Real Fine Arts, Brooklyn (2016, 2015).
Andy Meerow lives and works in New York. Recent and forthcoming solo and two-person presentations include Derosia, New York (forthcoming); Bodega (Derosia), New York (2021, 2016, 2014); KAJE, Brooklyn (2019); And Now, Dallas (2016); and Essex Flowers, New York (2014). Group presentations include Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2022); Hotel Art Pavillion, Brooklyn (2017); Galerie Eva Meyer, Paris (2017); and Ramiken, New York (2017).
Ann Zhao lives and works in Providence, RI. Recent exhibitions include Maxwell Graham / Essex Street, New York (2022); Derosia, New York (2022); Estrella, New York (2022); and Theta, New York (2022).