Night Gallery is excited to present an exhibition by Tracy Molis, titled OSg-OSz. Having originated from a massive archive of four-by-five inch lantern slide negatives, the strong black and white gradations in Molis's paintings resemble the way light shines through a transparency. While the collection of slides depicts numerous art-historical moments up until the mid-20th century, her most recent work is influenced specifically by the documentations of ancient sculptures and stone relief carvings—a box catalogued as OSg-OSz. The artist delves through slides with an archaeological impulse: as many of the detail photographs of the depicted carvings are not internet-searchable, she is driven by the discovery of locating moments within a tactile, material library of photographs that have not been widely circulated through digital means.
Most of the images are chosen for the characteristic of being hybrid creatures: half-eagle, halflion, half-serpent, half-man. They are morphed figures that hold the unspoken air of authority, of heroes—designating portals and shrines, at once framing and beckoning-in. Magnified parts of these figures appear in the final paintings, closely cropped from images of stupas, processional friezes, and other architectural sites throughout South Asia. Other works are nonrepresentational, isolating moments of abstraction like the lines incised into the base of a bronze Surya sculpture.
Molis makes a graphite drawing from each illuminated slide, translating the tactile experience of handling the slide to paper, the discrepancies inherent to the drawing process paralleling the variable image quality of slide film. Through drawing, she observes the negatives as pictures in themselves, preferring the devotional, mediating act of inscribing the inverted image by hand, cutting into it with light, melding forms into one another, leading to oneiric paintings that never fully cohere into a complete scene. In the final, airbrushed paintings, the gestures of the artist’s hand are magnified much in the same way as the original stone details, which are returned to an architectural scale.
Tracy Molis is a Los Angeles-born artist who lives and works in New York. She has a solo exhibition forthcoming at Klima in Milan, Italy in early 2016. Molis’s work has been exhibited at Joe Sheftel Gallery and the Jewish Museum in New York, as well as ReMap 4 in Athens, Greece and the Stedelijk Museum s' Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Molis holds a BFA from California State University, Long Beach, and a MFA from Columbia University, New York.