MATRIX 250 features the work of Los Angeles–based artist Linda Stark (b. 1956), who has been making figurative and abstract paintings with heavily built-up surfaces of paint since the late 1980s. This presentation showcases approximately fifteen paintings made by the artist over the last two decades, highlighting her more recent series of “adornment” and “branded” paintings, which conflate the surface textures of the painting with various aspects of the female body, primarily flesh. The artist drips and meticulously builds layers of thick oil paint in her modestly scaled works, the largest of which measure three feet square and the smallest seven inches square. She engages with the physical aspects of paint, repeatedly turning the canvas on its side to build up a dense network of layers, which sometimes appear more sculptural than painterly. Stark frequently spends several years working on her luscious surfaces, underscoring the temporal and material properties of oil paint.
Inspired by transcendent, universal themes, as well as common utilitarian patterns, Stark has created a distinctive body of work organized around central motifs: spirals, rotations, weave patterns, fountains, flames, crosses, flesh, animals, and water. The female body, shown in abstracted close-ups, has been a particular focus of her oeuvre, as witnessed in diverse representations of female genitalia and other fragmented body parts (belly buttons, hair, nipples, tattoos, etc.). Yet for all her attention to the surface of the painting, what inevitably manifests is a deeply felt interest in human psychology and spiritual, or even supernatural, subjects. Stark filters these concerns through a playful pop aesthetic, often producing a cheerful yet disturbing affect.
Linda Stark / MATRIX 250 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.