Laura Lit (b. Dallas, Texas, 1979) is an artist in Austin, Texas. Like Gerard Richter, Lit is a polyglot painter adept in several visual languages. Her practice combines a virtuoso hand with an omnivorous eye.
In 2015 Lit showed hyper-realistic oils at Women at their Work, meticulously crafted and sexually charged figure painting exploring the tension between desire and observation. Buoyant, unpredictable, and iconic, her 2018 work for AFTER IMAGES at Northern-Southern are abstracts of what Lit sees with her eyes closed, painted with the lightest touch. In 2019’s LIKEsNESS, Lit returned to the figure and representation but with sculpture: startlingly colored but tender busts of women in repose.
FUZZY FORCES is Laura Lit working now, fast and focused bursts of drawing with colored pencils. Reminiscent of the AFTER IMAGES paintings, the compositions seem sentient, astral manifestations of spirit visitors.
N-S will release the drawings as Lit completes them, roughly one a week. The show will conclude when Lit finishes the last drawing in the set.
Q & A
Q. I have heard you say that these images have no reference. What does that mean?
Laura Lit: I tend to be an over-thinker. An over-planner. Every detail planned out exactly. When things don’t work out, I can be a bit hard on myself. It plays out this way with my art. That’s why I’m always trying new things, to see if there’s a better way. To loosen up, to be more free to make mistakes, and therefore to grow.
It’s also why I like to try things that I previously thought I could not do. When I started out, I thought I was a pretty good drawer, but not necessarily a good painter. So I switched to painting and did that for many years, hardly ever drawing again. I never thought I could do sculpture, but when I figured out what was stopping me (discovering the right materials), I had to focus on doing that for a while. I never thought in a million years I’d be making abstract art and loving it. I thought I didn’t have the creativity needed to make art that was not based on reference material. I was in awe of nonrepresentational artists.
Q. You have so many modes of making: abstraction, realistic painting, sculpture. What prompts the shift from one mode to another?
Laura Lit: I started making a few abstract pieces for Batch simply because I wanted something cool on the walls. To come up with subject matter that was appropriate for the space was too daunting. The images, shapes, and colors just flowed out of me. Since then I go back and forth, but now I don’t want to paint or draw figures or faces any more. That might change in the future, but doing the abstract pieces fulfills me in ways representational stuff could not. Allowing myself to work based on instinct and my subconscious, which is infinite and forever evolving, is different for me and I like it. I could see in the future perhaps turning some of these drawings into sculptures or wall hangings.
Q. What are you looking for in these pictures? Or what could we be looking for?
Laura Lit: With these pieces I am looking mostly to visually represent a feeling or a sensation. For me, it’s a way of processing difficult emotions. Art has always probably served that purpose for me. Using repetition, contrast, and opposing forces is parallel to how we process things psychologically. Colors have inherent psychological meaning, and shapes have their own dynamics. The task is to figure out how to arrange colors and shapes in a way that they interact with each other to create specific sensations, movement, forces, and feelings. Each viewer will have a different response to each piece, as it is dependent on their perception and personal history. One person might see a giant black egg as a warm, calming force, and another might see it as an imposing, menacing force. I encourage people to explore these routes into their subconscious, and what it means to them as an individual. Or they can just enjoy the pretty colors.