Clare Rojas, Egret: Kavi Gupta | 219 N. Elizabeth St. Chicago, IL, 60607

19 May - 7 July 2018

Kavi Gupta is pleased to present Egret, an exhibition of new work by Clare Rojas at the gallery’s Elizabeth Street location. 


For Rojas (b. 1976, USA), storytelling manifests in many different ways: sometimes visually, as a painting, drawing, or sculpture; or other times musically, as a song. Yet one similarity Rojas has noticed between these various forms of expression has to do with reduction. Her songwriting pares down the essence of a story to something that can be conveyed in minutes, just as the essence of form and line in her abstract visual compositions is reduced to an examination of the tension of balance.


However, though theoretically reductive, Rojas’ highly individualized visual language also represents an escalation. Each image she creates proliferates from a personal totemic form, evocative of the shape of a drop of water or a mountain, but unrooted in any narrative explanation. The form has evolved over time from an abstract shape that Rojas first found instinctual to draw to something concrete she began noticing everywhere in her visual environment. Says Rojas, “The more I drew it, and meditated on the shape, experimented with variations of it in pattern and reduction, the more I saw it everywhere I looked. I found it in the figure, in nature, in water, in land, in animals.” This form is both a metaphysical anchor and an aesthetic starting point for her work.


Egret will feature more than 100 new abstract works, including one hundred 8×10-inch drawings. These drawings exemplify Rojas’s intensive drawing practice, in which she completes a finished work every day or two. Addressing this ritual in a personal note authored to viewers in the catalogue accompanying the show, Rojas says:

“When I wake up, I make my coffee, sit at my kitchen counter with my tiny light, reading glasses these days, and 20 different palettes of gauche colors collected and saved over the course of decades. These colors have traveled the world with me … There is an excitement and nervous energy … The feeling in my body, in the pit of my stomach, is similar to when I was a kid and I stood at the end of the high dive, looking down at the blue, chlorinated pool water, cautiously bouncing my courage out before I would close my eyes and jump. What is this fear? … Something this simple has no rules ….”


Egret will also feature nine new large-scale oil paintings, which continue to explore the tension of balance that is essential to Rojas’ visual vocabulary. Additionally, these oil paintings, which each took months to complete, express a different, extended, deeply contemplative relationship with time distinct from that which is expressed by her drawings.


Also on view will be several sculptural works. Although the step from two to three-dimensionality may seem, as Rojas says, “like the most simple and straightforward transition,” these sculptures declare something inherently complex. Rojas plays with dimensionality in her drawings and paintings. Conversely, in her sculptures she strives to flatten space—to make 3-D look 2-D—essentially making objects into drawings.


Throughout Egret, Rojas continues her ongoing examination of the human will towards story, a compulsion marked by our instinctive search for narrative relationships with images, even when they are essentially abstract.


Rojas earned her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent projects include a site-specific commission for the Art in Embassies Program in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (2018), a two-person exhibition with Barry McGee at the Watari Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2017), and a solo exhibition at the Alice Gallery in Brussels, Belgium (2016). Her new exhibition, Egret, opens at Kavi Gupta Gallery on May 19, 2018.

Installation Views