Vito Schnabel St. Moritz Exhibits Caitlin Lonegan’s Vibrant Abstractions

Installation views of Caitlin Lonegan: Blue Window, Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, June 11, 2022 – September 24, 2022; Artworks © Caitlin Lonegan; Photos by Stefan Altenburger; Courtesy the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery

An Artsy story from 2016 bore the half-joking headline, 11 Female Abstract Expressionists Who Are Not Helen Frankenthaler, referring obviously to the exalted American painter who decisively held her own against her more well known male counterparts within that genre. But they were actually making a salient point about the number of women artists who continue to be overlooked in the discussion about the evolution of abstraction over the last sixty to seventy years or thereabouts.

So that Paris’ Centre Pompidou last summer staged the monumental survey Women in Abstraction was certainly encouraging. It gathered the works of more than a hundred of the most prominent female abstract artists, in a definitive reminder of their significant contributions to reshaping the way we see the world through the visual arts.

Vito Schnabel has notably exhibited the likes of Pat Steir, as well as new generation abstractionists like Brazilian Mariana Oushiro. The Los Angeles based Caitlin Lonegan is certainly counted amongst the latter, born in just 1982, and so barely pushing 40. She earned her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2010 – but her undergraduate work also included the study of applied physics at Yale…and it’s interesting to consider how that may have actually influenced her working methodology.

She had her first solo exhibition with Schnabel last autumn at the 43 Clarkson Street New York gallery. But while Interiors played with notions of color and light, her latest, Blue Window – currently showing at the St. Moritz, Switzerland gallery – is more focused on concepts of spatial relationships and texturing.

In one series of large format paintings (each was sized just beyond Lonegan’s own height and arm span, though ostensibly no conceptual reason was forwarded for doing so) lashes of color seem to be racing out to the edges across the white backdrops, giving each the quality of being exhilaratingly electric/kinetic. The pictorial areas appear to even be spilling off the ends of the canvases, as if to make the viewer wonder what might be going on just beyond the boundaries – a technique arguably employed to fascinating effect by the likes of, say, Yves Tanguy and Joan Mitchell.

Also included are a series of smaller paintings, given placement in a subterranean area of the gallery, and almost hauntingly lit. And while they seem somewhat less “charged” than the others, the work throughout conveys a keen sense of being intellectually considered and tightly controlled, while yet evincing a kind of visceral immediacy, even an emotional turbulence of sorts.

Lonegan is hardly a stranger to the attentions of the art world cognoscenti, with her work already held in the permanent collections of the likes of LACMA and the Hammer Museum in LA, the Sammlung Goetz in Munich, and the Benton Museum at California’s Pomona College. But with Blue Window following 2021’s Interiors, she most certainly appears to be uncompromisingly coming into her own.

Caitlin Lonegan’s Blue Window will be on exhibit at Vito Schnabel St. Moritz through September 24.

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