Deanna Thompson
Justine Kurland: Auto Parts

Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles / United States

May 31, 2016

Deanna Thompson
Justine Kurland: Auto Parts

June 4–July 30, 2016

Kayne Griffin Corcoran
1201 South La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Kayne Griffin Corcoran is pleased to present a survey in memoriam of Deanna Thompson (1958–2015). Thompson began her career as a painter in Los Angeles before moving to Yucca Valley in the 1990s. For more than three decades, she was influenced by the vast landscape of the California desert. Largely living and working in isolation, Thompson explored the modern tension between society and her overwhelming natural environment.
Thompson’s paintings describe a sense of beauty found in the marks of human activity passed. Her subject matter of deserted homesteads, discarded man-made objects and cast-off cars placed between wide, flattened fields of earth and sky are charged with a highly detailed hand and offer a shifting level of complexity, ranging from realism to abstraction. Thompson considered her work as a form of portraiture, tracing the passed lives impressed upon these inanimate objects. For instance, her series of “Light Fixtures” were painted as portraits of friends seen through the domestic interior of their homes. These are lonely objects, suspended in the untouched space that hangs above life as it passes.  
Thompson’s portraiture also extended to the human subject. In 2012, she began an ongoing conversation with the French artist Michel Auder, who would email her photographs which she would subsequently paint. With the authority of selection and attention, Thompson painted these images in her own varying degrees of detail and removal to carry the photograph beyond its “origin.” In her very last series of works, Thompson returned to one of her earliest projects; painting from photographs of herself in many guises. These bold early self-portraits stand apart from Thompson’s otherwise reclusive nature throughout her career and serve to frame her life-long artistic meditations on composition, isolation, and passage from her rich, singular position.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Thompson studied painting at CSU Bakersfield before moving to Los Angeles. She began exhibiting her work publicly in 2010 and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. On the occasion of her first solo exhibition in 2010, the Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Knight noted her ability to “imbue [a landscape] with quiet mystery [and]…subtle desperation” as well as her “unostentatious integrity.”

In the south gallery, Kayne Griffin Corcoran is pleased to present Auto Parts, a solo exhibition featuring New York-based artist Justine Kurland. This will be her first solo presentation in Los Angeles.
Kurland has long been fascinated with the American West. The photographs in this exhibition were made over the course of extended road trips with her son. In some ways these new car pictures differ little from Kurland’s earlier staged narrative photographs. The car is both fact and symbol, and the road is an actual landscape as well as a site from which to glean narratives derived from America’s dream of itself, from its collective faith in the inalienable right to freedom. The photographs are not metaphoric so much as they are associative—ranging from reflections on masculinity and her young son, to the recent death of her father, to the “rough trade” of used cars. For Kurland, the lens became a way to organize the world’s surface detail into a manifestation of subjective interiority.
In Kurland’s photographs, the road itself might count as a material support of the medium. The reality of car maintenance becomes the self-reflexive core of her work. Kurland’s new pictures look at the road not as the means to an end, but as an end unto itself. They signal a critical investigation implicating her own participation in American car culture, and an acknowledgment of the problems inherent to an overly optimistic identification with cars.
Justine Kurland was born in 1969 in Warsaw, New York, and received her MFA from Yale University in 1998. Recent museum exhibitions include Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West at the Museum of Modern Art, NY; and Role Models: Feminine Identity in Contemporary American Photography at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. 

The exhibition coincides with the release of a new artist’s book, F-Hole, printed and designed by Rock Bottom Press.

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