Forgive and Forget
LA Tate Gallery January 7 – February 11, 2023 Opening Reception: Saturday, January 7
In Lena Moross’ solo show, Forgive and Forget immediately visible is her complicated sense of humor; cheeky, also very serious—sometimes even tragic.
In this new series of watercolors, Moross’ mostly large-scale figurative paintings comprise scenarios taken from found family albums. Drawn from vernacular 18th-century illustration, her signature bright and acidic palette ratchets up the drama and tension, while leaving the narratives open to interpretation. In one such painting, a coolly confident young woman reclines on a long green tufted couch, her pink heels pointed coyly at a man in a brown suit and tie sitting upright next to her, arms folded squarely into his chest, at its opposite end. Her lemony chartreuse dress seems perfectly coordinated with the couch, her hair chicly clipped and brushed as if by a breeze. She gazes with a slight grin directly at us; her companion staring blankly off to the side. Moross has managed to pick several images full of dramatic possibility and even suspense; painted at a slight angle, energetically sketched, and brushed across the surfaces, off-kilter, slightly oblique. The spirited brushwork almost threatens to knock its human subjects off-balance—and frequently the accessories, props and decor around them.
Lena Moross’s training began in her native St. Petersburg, at the State Academy of Art. When Lena moved to the U.S., she studied at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design and CalArts, where she did her graduate work under the tutelage of the late John Baldessari and Jonathan Borofsky.
I feel as if my academic education has always been imprinted in my painting. My love and admiration for the colored prints of Honore Daumier, Gustave Dore, and Cruikshank's character color plates live largely in my work, and of course with additional camp and kitsch elements that are representations of not only the world at large but my own self-deprecating humor. My idea is to take small sized graphic illustrations and make them grand in both size and feeling. -Lena Moross