Lesley Vance’s Milestone Exhibition at David Kordansky Presents Her Largest Paintings Yet
Evoking a rainbow of ribbons unfurling in midair, these six-foot-tall canvases are the Los Angeles artist’s most ambitious to date
Psychedelic and commanding, Lesley Vance’s intimately sized, colorful canvases have for the past 20 years been meant to be appreciated up close. Now, for the first time, the artist’s admirers can experience her work in a new format: monumental paintings. Originally set to debut this spring and delayed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, “A Zebra Races Counterclockwise” will be on view from September 12 through October 24 at David Kordansky. One of the Los Angeles gallery’s first in-person shows since its reopening, the exhibition will occupy two spaces, giving Vance’s paintings—several of which exceed six feet in height—plenty of room to breathe.
For her largest and most ambitious exhibition yet, Vance chose to title the show based on a line from American writer and art critic Frank O’Hara’s Poetry: “A zebra races counterclockwise. / All this I desire. To / deepen you by my quickness / and delight as if you were logical and proven . . . ” The poem, much like Vance’s oeuvre, references speed, surprise, desire, and ever-evolving possibilities. At once dizzying and soothing, Vance’s ribbonlike, candy-colored patterns give the feeling of jumping down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole—and when painted in this larger scale, the works become all the more immersive.
“When I’m working on a larger scale my entire arm’s span can get involved in creating the composition”Lesley Vance
Throughout her career, Vance has experimented with light and shadow, as well as strategically layered vibrant brushstrokes, to convey movement and depth. From a distance, the works’ forms appear to have perfect hard edges, allowing for a high degree of perceived differentiation between background and foreground. The canvases, therefore, take on a three-dimensional effect, evoking the architectural curves and spontaneity of Frank Stella’s explosive metal sculptures and the kinetic sensibility of Victor Vasarely’s optical art.
“My favorite aspect of working on a larger scale is that color itself becomes an experiential force,” Vance tells Galerie. “Also, when I’m working on a larger scale my entire arm’s span can get involved in creating the composition.”
Vance’s increasingly abstract art was recently chronicled in Lesley Vance: Painting 2013-2019 (Gregory R. Miller & Co.) by Douglas Fogle, and her work can also be found in the public collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.
As for her future, we can expect to see further reinventions of painting—the artist tells Galerie that her large-scale canvases have unleashed a whole new wave of creativity: “There is more space to work in, and more free-flowing gestures and forms emerge. This has changed and opened up how I think about space in my smaller works as well.”
“A Zebra Races Counterclockwise” is open by appointment at David Kordansky, 5130 West Edgewood Place, Los Angeles. Timed reservations and virtual visits are available.