form in the realm of
Léonie Guyer makes paintings, drawings, and books. Consisting mostly of abstract shapes, usually modest in scale, some of her works are painted on wooden panels or marble fragments, others are drawn on paper, and others are painted directly onto walls in site-responsive installations.
Her work rejects language. She is drawn to the moment that precedes it, and her paintings locate a space that we can’t yet recognize, name, or describe. She is seeking an experience that is at the edge of visibility, right before something is something. In her mind, an artwork is a place where countless decisions are condensed and compacted together, and she works to intensify that concentration by keeping her paintings small and reduced down to their bare essentials: color, surface, and shape. Despite its intimate scale and minimalist sensibility, Guyer’s work is expansive and idiosyncratic. “A simple dot or a line,” she says, “would not be idiosyncratic enough.” The shapes she draws are nuanced and precise but also amorphous and even a bit awkward. They could be formal abstract compositions, but also a hieroglyphic form of language, an ancient or secret symbol, or a mark on a graphic score, and they combine the character and texture of each. In that sense, they are the opposite of ornament: they aim to make painting feel stranger, not more comfortable. We could call these shapes beautiful, but only because they are imperfect.
Léonie Guyer (b. 1955, New York City) lives and works in San Francisco.
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