Chelsea Culprit: PSYCHOPOMP
April 5, 2024
Chelsea Culprit Showcard
Mariposa Gallery is pleased to announce PSYCHOPOMP, an exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by American artist Chelsea Culprit, opening Friday April 5, 2024 with a reception from 18-21h.
Drawing from histories of labor, gender, dance, craft, folk spirituality, and personal ancestry, Culprit’s works knit together representations of the body’s capacity for play, display, pleasure, performance, and the intractability of freedom and personal bondage. Moving freely between the imagery of folk art, the materiality of contemporary life, and modes of abstraction and symbolism, the artist works in various mediums including neon light, sculptural assemblage, installation, painting, and printmaking.
PSYCHOPOMP includes a suite of new paintings that depart from Culprit’s figurative works. After converting an abandoned firehouse in the Catskill Mountains into a studio, Culprit developed a process of brush cleaning on drop cloths beneath the paintings. Over time, the accumulated marks and spills of paint developed texture and language of their own. Culprit took up the canvases to create spontaneous works of abstract geometries and psychedelic quilted patterns, evoking the long history of fiber-based craft traditions. While these works break from representational narrative, their materials weave together overlapping storylines of women’s labor and artistry in Appalachia and rural America. The artist replaces her brush with lace forms– doilies, tablecloths, wrist cuffs, and collars– dipped and coated in house paint and transferred onto colored grounds, invoking the anonymous hands of the makers who established these traditions as well as its post-war mechanization.
The exhibition also includes a group of new figurative works, some hang independently, while others are mounted on the surface of larger abstractions. These paintings feature nomadic figures that move through surreal landscapes towards unknown futures. In Starflower Sisters, two sunflower botanoids glide along an empty highway that winds into the sunset through an endless field of flowering strawberry plants. The painting’s ground recalls the mosaic forms of Culprit’s abstract works, across which mythical bodies stretch in ancient choreography. In Redneck Dentata, a toothed orifice with a long pink tongue, floppy bunny ears, and a bubblegum manicure races across a deserted field of daisies and swaying powerlines– a discombobulated pile of visceral forms adorned with denim curtain-pants, a rope belt, and a hissing snakeskin boot. In another small painting on wood panel, a hermit crab finds a scavenged home in a plastic bottle cap, scuttling across a field of open green. These are Culprit’s psychopomps: travelers between worlds of spirit and earth, between conscious and subconscious, between figure and ground.
In the gallery’s cave hangs a sculpture of neon light in the form of a shell-boot.
Chelsea Culprit (b. 1984 in Paducah, KY) lives and works in Conesville, NY and Mexico City, Mexico. Recent solo exhibitions include Pole on Break, Queer Thoughts, New York, NY; Amygdala in Repose, Morán Morán, Los Angeles; Malas Madres, Lulu, Mexico City (2019); Fear of Seduction, Queer Thoughts at Maureen Paley, London, UK (2019). Culprit’s work has been featured in recent group exhibitions at Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico (2020), Museo Arte de Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico (2020); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2019); Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland (2019); Revolver Gallery, Lima, Peru (2019); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2018); and Museo de Arte Carillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico (2018).