"Look, up at the sky. There is a light, a beauty up there, that no shadow can touch." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Wainscott, NY – Tripoli Gallery is pleased to present Down Here, by New York based artist Lauren West. Opening with a reception for the artist on Friday, September 29, from 6 – 8 pm, the exhibition will remain on view through October 29, 2023, at Tripoli Gallery in Wainscott, NY. Lauren West participated in Tripoli Gallery’s fourth Artist-in-Residency, March 8 to April 30, 2023. It was during the residency that she made a new body of work which will be on view in this exhibition.

For Down Here, West made paintings placing the viewer on the ground, peering up. Not unlike the perspective perfected during the Italian Renaissance featured in cupola’s in Florence and Rome, this choice inserts those present into the work from the vantage point of looking up. In conversation with the artist, she revealed that in some of the works, she imagines coming upon a strange, abandoned battlefield, for an unspoken war. In Brief Moon (2023), spears are thrust upward, and doves are present, a symbol that the worst is over. West sees these works as visual serenity, the moment a quietude has befallen upon the landscape. The work has moments of anticipation and silence threaded throughout, and instead of bringing anxiety, they provide solace. Blue Sighting (2023) has a similar point of view but the landscape is a forest or leafy field. A verdant palette, she’s added a dove wing in the upper right side of the canvas. One can imagine that the dove in Blue Sighting may have been part of the feathered group from Brief Moon, who left the battle in hopes of greener pastures. Entryways are the crux of these paintings, spaces for the viewer and the imagination.

Working mostly on canvas, West also incorporates charcoal drawings (on paper and wood panel) providing another type of tactile energy to scratch the surface. There is a quality of magic realism in Down Here, found in landscapes that only the artist has the key to enter. The exhibition presents what could be seen as painted portals into a world that has gone through challenges and come out on top.

Lauren West (b. 1989, Oxford, MS) is a visual artist from Oxford, Mississippi based in New York City. She received her MFA degree from The New York Academy of Art after obtaining a BFA from the University of Mississippi. West’s paintings often utilize anthropomorphism, references to the American South, peppered with humor, and existentialism. Perseverance in the face of difficulty, is an important element within her compositions, the conceptual force continuing onward despite an unpredictable mortality. Lauren West has exhibited in Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford and in New York at Right Behind the New Museum, ChaShaMa, and The New York Academy of Art, among others. She was the fourth Artist-in-residence at Tripoli Gallery, in 2023.

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Lauren West Blue Fence, 2023 oil on canvas 30 x 24 inches (76.2 x 60.96 cm)
Lauren West Opening, 2023 oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches (50.8 x 60.96 cm)