Cristi López: Unravel: Portraits of My Obsessions
Featuring work by: Cristi López
On Display: -
A Very Serious Gallery is proud to present Unravel: Portraits of My Obsessions by Florida-based artist Cristi López. This exhibition builds upon Lopez’s strong Chicago ties and is her first major solo presentation, which will include 13 new paintings that consider the artist’s intimate relationship with her mental health.
López, a first-generation American of Dominican, Spanish, and Cuban descent, creates intricate compositions of female figures that evoke a sense of duality, intimacy, and frenetic calm. Her treatment of the figure is multifaceted and dynamic, and the women in her work possess a sense of power, confidence, and emotional vulnerability.
Drawing inspiration from symbolist painters such as Klimt, Kahlo, and Redon, López is also influenced by the work of Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele, adopting similarly sharp angular poses and a bold, expressive use of line. Catholic iconography inspires the often central, triangular compositions, which combined with López’s tight figural posture creates a sense of tension in the work.
She nods to Dominican folk art to inform the bold, primary color palettes of this new body of work. All of these influences, along with repeating motifs can be seen in Unravel, which depicts a wounded female nude, against a backdrop of the Chicago Skyline. Although tense, the figure is calm and at peace.
This figurative duality, bold, sometimes frantic line work, and layered compositions are also strongly influenced by López’s struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A chronically misunderstood and misrepresented mental illness, OCD is often carelessly used in everyday vernacular to describe one’s personality quirks.
For those like López, however, with a clinical diagnosis, that cultural flippancy can be isolating and she strives to not only be visible, but to claim power in taking up space. She utilizes the human figure and recurring motifs as a means of externalizing the often covert aspects of mental illness. In this exhibition, and in most of her practice, Lopez depicts scissors in relationship to and sometimes having wounded the figure. To her, this object is representative of the relentless, distressing, and violent thoughts that plague many OCD sufferers. However, amidst the chaos, absurdity, and sometimes violence depicted, her figures remain strong, nurturing, and tranquil.
López’s work speaks directly to her own complex relationship with her mind. While she renders portraits of the internal dialogues and struggles she experiences, the creation of this work has monumental healing potential, not only for herself but for others. Through her intensely personal imagery, she hopes that others will recognize themselves.
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