Wet and Wild
CB1 Gallery is pleased to present Wet and Wild, artist Lily Simonson’s LA solo exhibition debut. Through luminous, translucent glazes, Simonson’s uncanny paintings of insects and sea creatures marry tropes of zoological illustration with traditional figure painting and abstract expressionism. The exhibition will be on view from Sunday, June 17 through Sunday, July 29. An opening reception for the artist will take place on Sunday June 17, from 5-7 pm.
Lily Simonson’s luscious, atmospheric paintings revel in the bizarre architectures and behaviors of invertebrates whose biological truths are stranger than human fictions. In Wet and Wild, she depicts newly-discovered species as emblems of sexuality and mortality, while mining their unfamiliar morphologies for formal painterly investigations. Her gnarly compositions conjure romantically-charged narratives while delving into the grotesque aspects of her subjects, simultaneously highlighting both the beauty and the abjection of human eroticism.
Hermaphrodite sea slugs form orgiastic mating chains. Moths drink the tears of birds. Colonies of yeti crabs mysteriously dance, waving their pincers in unison. The layered, dramatic chiaroscuro scenes of Wet and Wild invoke the rich palette and glowing glazes of Dutch still lifes. Meanwhile, Simonson mixes UV reactive paints, appropriating elements of pop psychedelia to portray the bioluminescence of her subjects and evoke their hallucinatory qualities. Simonson’s large, shimmering canvases form an immersive and fluid world, shaped by the shifting currents of repulsion and seduction.
Lily Simonson holds an MFA from UCLA and a BA from UC Berkeley. She collaborates with marine scientists to observe deep sea specimens. The Scripps Institute of Oceanography has invited Simonson to join their two-week expedition exploring the sea floor of the San Diego margin. She will paint the fauna from its oxygen-minimum zones and deep water seeps as they are revealed by the cruise’s submersible vehicle. She has delivered lectures and shown her paintings at scientific symposia including the Census of Marine Life Summit at the Royal Society of London and the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Aberdeen. Her work has been exhibited across the US and Europe and her art and criticism have appeared in a range of media outlets, including the LA Times, LA Weekly, MTV, the Art21 Blog, and Ms. Magazine.