Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to announce our first exhibition with Los Angeles-based artist, Amy Adler. Hotel includes a series of drawings exploring a non-place of anonymous experience, an emotionally charged in-between rendered laboriously in oil pastel on canvas. Each drawing shows a blonde woman in a slightly less than contemporary hotel room. The mood is film noir: low light, a rotary phone, a preoccupied woman set apart only very slightly from the shadows. Despite the intensity with which Adler’s drawings suggest a filmic narrative, her attention to the formal particularities of drawing (value, volume, line) creates a tug of war between the formal and the affective.
As in much of Adler’s work, there is an invested interest in what is not seen. The space of the room, rendered in low contrast tones of ochre and sepia; the both subtly erotic and deeply self-reflective moments in which we see the usually nude figure; areas of skillful draftsmanship where voluminous realistic representation transforms into abstract, flattened geometries—these are all visible elements of the drawings in Hotel. Standing in front of these canvases, the viewer stands in for something in the image we cannot see: the person taking the photograph that has been used as the source material for the drawing. The context of the images is left blank. Is the subject alone, waiting for someone, reflecting on an experience after someone has left? Crucially, even in a drawing where the woman is standing against a wall, arms behind her head, eyes hooded, breasts bare, and skin striped with the shadows from the horizontal blinds, there isn’t a sense that we are standing in for a voyeur. These poses are at once performative and private. A mood is performed with confidence, as it might be if she were in fact alone, but the act of looking does not take on the consequence of consumption or trespass.
A viewer familiar with Adler’s work will have noted that the figure in the drawings is that of the artist herself. But, ultimately, this woman’s particular identity, like that of the simultaneously nostalgic and nondescript room she inhabits, is not a question posed by the work. She is an archetype, an avatar performing a series of subtly shifting emotional states, an opportunity to play in between realism and mannerism with drawing. Adler oscillates between masterful representations of the volumes of a living body or a porcelain bath tub, cartoonish ropey hair and severely outlined planes, subtle manipulations and distortions of perspective and scale, and carefully layered pastel to create hazy, almost faded scenes that reveal themselves slowly.
In her early career, Adler rarely showed her drawings. Instead, she exhibited photographs of the drawings (which had been destroyed after being documented). She started exhibiting the drawings around 2007. Despite this shift in her process, the content of Adler’s more recent work has continued to consistently explore tensions between drawing, film, and photography. In Hotel, the horizontal orientation of the large-scale canvasses is cinematic and suggest a movie screen in which the figure sits in a space squarely between a photograph, a film still, and a drawing. The context of the original photographs is inaccessible and the viewer is left to wonder about what is and what is not seen.
Amy Adler (b. 1966, New York, NY) graduated from Cooper Union and received an MFA in Visual Art from UCLA and an MFA in Cinematic Arts from USC. She has had one person shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and The Aspen Art Museum as well as galleries worldwide. Her project, Amy Adler Photographs Leonardo DiCaprio, was shown at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2002. In the spring of 2005 Twin Palms Press released a monograph of her work entitled, “Amy Adler Young Photographer.” Adler’s work is included in several permanent collections including The Broad Foundation, Los Angeles, The UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. Amy Adler currently lives in Los Angeles and is Professor of Visual Art at the University of California San Diego.