Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder is delighted to present new paintings by Caitlin Lonegan, her third solo exhibition with the gallery. Lonegan continues to make paintings based on her observations of light and color, and how they might be conveyed in a series of overlapping gestures, constantly intersecting the subjective and empirical. This entails her observations of ambient conditions of her studio, her past and ongoing paintings, or a multitude of objects finding her glances. She captures specific visual information from them, reproducing their effects that can be reenacted in a new painting. Lonegan repeats this process ad infinitum, resulting in generative variations at differing scales and painterly approaches.
Lonegan had written almost a decade ago that her process was filled with “hiccups, small repetitions and rhythms,” variations of which continually finding new expression in one series to the next. She builds their inventories in several ways, one of which in her drawings on watercolor paper: They offer schematic or ambient representations of observed color phenomena, which are abstracted into spontaneous gestures in colored pencil or oil pastel. Her studies lean into her growing edge of understanding, skeletally representing what she later actualizes in the fluidity of paint. Her attempt to capture subjective observations of prismatic color, and to insist them towards an empirical reenactment, places her work beyond the general associations of abstract expressionism through which her work incidentally takes part. Long undead since the 20th century, its conceit of emotional and material purity is undermined by her insistence on accurately capturing color phenomena. This prevents her submission to unrestrained impulses and oil paint’s obstinate material nature. Which is not to say that Lonegan refuses to use her intuition or impulsivity to plot out her paintings, but she is intensely loyal to the optical data she seeks to represent, for they are foundational to building one painting to the next.
It is here where the fruits of Lonegan’s project are felt viscerally, where her resulting spatial effects, rich in movement, specificity, and depth, offer physical rewards that dance around descriptive language. This is because her paintings do not arise from efficient gestures designed to pin down fugitive color phenomena in one fell swoop; they arise from her stumbles, staccatos, and amendments that slowly build into strangely prismatic accumulations. These owe to material concerns like the careful selection of pigments, or to the drying time required between layers, but also to her delays to find satisfying solutions. They are eventually found as they settle against a bright white ground, which between passages, acts as a porthole through their articulated space.