Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce the representation of Los Angeles-based artist Calida Rawles. Rawles will have her first solo exhibition in New York at Lehmann Maupin in September 2021, and will debut a permanent installation in fall 2021 at the new Hollywood Park/SoFi Stadium campus in Inglewood, California. Her work is currently on view in the exhibition Art Finds a Way at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, and View From Here: Recent Acquisitions at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles. The artist will continue to work with Various Small Fires, Los Angeles/Seoul.
Rawles has gained widespread recognition for paintings that merge hyper-realism with poetic abstraction. Situating her subjects in dynamic spaces, her recent work employs water as a vital, organic, multifaceted material, and historically charged space. Ranging from buoyant and ebullient to submerged and mysterious, Black bodies float in exquisitely rendered submarine landscapes of bubbles, ripples, refracted light, and expanses of blue.
For Rawles, water signifies both physical and spiritual healing as well as historical trauma and racial exclusion. She uses this complicated duality as a means to envision a new space for Black healing, and to reimagine her subjects beyond racialized tropes. Enhancing the seductive nature of water, the work tempers heavier subjects with aquatic serenity and geographic and temporal ambiguities, inviting multiple readings. Embedded in her titles and topographical notations in the compositions, Rawles’ canvases represent an expansive vision of strength and tranquility during today’s turbulent times while insisting on the triumph of humanity.
“When I first saw Calida’s work, I was mesmerized. Her process, which includes photography and even elements of performance art, pushes the limits of painting as a medium,” explains David Maupin. “Calida is part of an important generation of artists who are challenging traditional narratives and reshaping our discourse around beauty, power, and identity.”
In the year ahead, Rawles will debut a monumental new mural as part of the Hollywood Park/SoFi Stadium campus under development in Inglewood, California. Her permanent installation will be part of the stadium's expansive public arts program. In keeping with Rawles's previous work, the mural will showcase a central figure floating in water and embed imagery of nearby cultural, historical and topographical references, celebrating the artist’s personal connection to Inglewood as well as the area's local and predominantly Black community. Rawles will also act as a consultant for the forthcoming feature film, “The Water Dancer,” written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The film is based on Coates’ best-selling novel, for which Rawles created the cover art.
Learn more in the Financial Times
Above: Artist portrait by Glen Wilson