The Pit II
November 5-December 17, 2017
Opening reception November 5, 4-7pm
The Pit is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by New York-based artist Nikki Maloof in The Pit II. Chauve-Souris is Maloof’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.
For Chauve-Souris, Maloof offers a suite of portraits of bats. These paintings reference art historical portraiture while skewing expectations and conventions of the genre. Maloof explores the ways in which painting can convey psychological states, social status, and individual expression by replacing people with animals. In one composition, a bat is situated within a brightly colored environment and stares directly out at the viewer. All other aspects of the animal’s face have been removed or distorted, yielding an ominous, psychological mood. In another work, a bright orange bat is rendered in an abstract manner and hovers in a dark environment peppered with blurs of white light and bright green leaves. The bat casts a glance over its shoulder in a gesture that grounds the otherwise disorienting composition.
In a double portrait, Maloof pictures what may be a parent and child. Both tender and tense, the smaller bat presses closely against the larger bat in a comforting gesture, yet the small bat sits with its mouth stretched open, its head consisting entirely of mouth, teeth, and gums. The painting suggests the abjection and aggression that can run parallel to the generosity and love that exist between individuals tied together in relationships.
The depiction of animals has a long history in the canon of art, and images of animals and what humans see in animals’ faces has long been a deep source of reflection for philosophers. Maloof’s paintings recall Jacques Derrida’s idea of the “autobiographical animal” outlined in his book The Animal That Therefore I Am, in which animals become a mirror in which humankind is reflected. Upon meeting eyes with an animal, the thoughts, fears, or emotions of the animal remain abstract, and the human turns awareness back to the self and one’s internal dialogue rather than learning about the other. Maloof’s use of color and quick brush marks lends an immediacy to her paintings, but the depth of what hides behind their subjects’ abstracted features remains ambiguous. Juxtapositions of subject matter and style alongside the abstracted environments and obscured features of the animals lend a surreal quality to her work. Conveying a spirited, lighthearted sensibility, the paintings gradually unfold into introspective portraits of human and animal nature.
Born in Peoria, IL in 1985, Nikki Maloof lives in Brooklyn, New York. She received a Bachelor of Fine Art from Indiana University in 2008 and Master of Fine Art degree from Yale University in 2011. Recent exhibitions include The Great Figure Two at The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn; Imagine at Brand New Gallery, Milan; Let’s Get Figurative at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York; Tiger Tiger at Salon 94, New York; Undertonk and Friends at Undertonk, New York; Please Excuse Our Appearance at 247365, New York; and Immediate Female at Judith Charles Gallery, New York. Maloof has recently participated in Buying Friends: The Kortman Collection at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids; Don’t Look Now at Zach Feuer, New York; and Do The Yale Thing at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit. She has received several awards, most recently the Helen W. Winternitz Award in Painting and Printmaking and the Gloucester Landscape Prize. Maloof’s work will be presented in a solo exhibition at Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago in 2018.