Celeste Dupuy-Spencer is not the most gregarious of artists. Back in February, the brilliant, contemporary LA-based painter likened her typical level of human interaction to a “cloaked submarine.” Nevertheless, others have been crowding around Dupuy-Spencer’s work over the past twelve months.
Four themes trend in the works included in Women Painting Women: The Body, Nature Personified, Color as Portrait, and Selfhood. Through these themes, the artists conceive new ways to activate and elaborate on the portrayal of women. Replete with complexities, realness, abjection, beauty, complications, everydayness, and joy, the portraits in this exhibition make way for female artists to share the stage with their male counterparts in defining the image of woman and how it has evolved.
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer is one of LA’s most sought after artists, and the art world can’t get enough of her work. ON THE MORNING of January 6, 2021, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, like most Americans, was going about her business as usual. She’d recently completed an ambitious suite of 15 allegorical paintings for her solo debut at Galerie Max Hetzler, her Berlin dealer, who also represents art stars like Ai Weiwei and Julian Schnabel. One depicted oil rigs burning in the sea; another, a medieval army killing everything in its path; still another, a parade of elephants representing the 3.5 billion-year march of evolution.
“There was a really odd wokey line in an explanatory side-bar to one painting of a black woman who helped Neel around the house. The portrait was of this woman with her infant son…– One of dozens Neel did of moms…and neighborhood people – Anyway – the curators hinted that the picture evoked a certain exploitative relation…- Maybe… but that surely wasn’t obvious…– And I thought to myself – this painter had NO money for decades – no studio EVER… – and lived in hoods the Met curators would never have set foot in…So their tut tuts seems FUCT to me!”
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer moves between styles, gestures and a history of painting to interrogate the American experience. Hailed by curators and critics as a leading artist of her generation, she's known for her energetic brushwork and incorporating a montage of visual language. Celeste’s paintings grapple with existential questions through figures and scenes that are at once confrontational and tender. Community and more broadly, society - in all its contradictions - is often the protagonist in a body of work that aims to capture the ever-evolving nature of America.
'I was really trying to paint what it feels like to be living in the fall of human civilization' - Celeste Dupuy-Spencer on her powerful new Artspace edition. The highly acclaimed young American artist Celeste Dupuy-Spencer artist paints visceral, visionary, figurative works, which draw on her own personal fears, wider political and social pressures, as well as the existential conflicts within the human condition.
Two years ago, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer walked into an evangelical mega-church, and had a profound experience. A self-professed atheist with progressive politics who doesn’t believe in what she refers to as the “sky daddy,” Dupuy-Spencer was nevertheless moved by a sense of unconditional love. “Out of a room full of holy people, Jesus loves the sinner the most,” she says. She continued attending the church until COVID-19 shut it down; to this day, she continues not to believe in God.
If you’re hoping to move on quickly from the memory of the deadly January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building, Nino Mier’s Los Angeles gallery is not the place for you. If you want to bask in the rightness of your opposition to the right wing, also not so much. At the gallery, you’ll be confronted with Don’t You See That I Am Burning (2020), a seven-foot-square painting by Celeste Dupuy-Spencer depicting the deadly insurrection, when thousands stormed Washington in an attempt to overturn the election of Joe Biden.
The queer painters taking the stage of contemporary art grew up in a very different world than their predecessors. A generation removed from the AIDS crisis, these artists came of age with relative freedom and security. Now, they are embracing the canon, looking far back into the history of figurative painting and making it their own.
The standouts include two crimson-and-purple-toned paintings by Katherine Bradford, “Brothers” and “Boxers Under Lights,” in which flat male figures are crossed and stacked like I-beams, and Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s “Anastasis of the Wild,” in which a gorgeous multicolored wolf trots alongside its own incarnate shadow.
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer invokes the devotional in her portraits and landscape scenes. There is something hallowed in her depictions of the mundane – a gathering of women, a hem on a shawl, a man at an electronic keyboard. A light ekes in, casting an eerie yet pleasant glow. In some works, the artist employs a faint chiaroscuro, transforming ordinary moments into dramatic narratives.
The evening after Brett Kavanaugh secured his Supreme Court nomination, elite Evangelicals held a party in North Carolina. At the Westin in Charlotte, the Council for National Policy—an outfit that oil heir T. Cullen Davis co-founded after he discovered Jesus and after a jury acquitted him of double murder—had gathered for their annual meetings. Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas’ wife, and Nikki Haley attended, among senators and strategists. They were happy that night.
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer has religion on her mind – not individual faith, which is based in spiritual apprehension, but the equivocal structural systems that grow up around it. Those systems today define much of American life, even if they are rarely considered in art. She seems determined to break the silence.
The UCLA Hammer Museum’s much-anticipated biennial survey of new art produced in the city has just opened its fourth iteration. “Made in L.A. 2018” is the best one yet. Part of the reason comes from simple, dramatic contrast. Since the show’s last outing in 2016, American society has been plunged into a period of destructive nastiness and malice. Art is inherently its opposite.
Week after week, reading the women’s stories on the bus ride home, they began to seem like one big story, like the same story told over and over. Someone is always being beaten, someone is always in pain. Someone is always being treated like a slave. A thing.
“I think the best way to find out more about the contemporary art world is to experience it for yourself… immerse yourself in it,” says Annie Vartivarian, co-founder of Letitia Gallery, a new contemporary gallery opening in Beirut in February. “Attend gallery openings, museum exhibitions, talks, auctions and if possible visit artist’s studios.
"I'm dating a committedly masochist painter," my friend Sarah told me about a year ago. "Her name is Celeste." The name and description piqued my interest and kept popping up - on the address line of the airmail letter Sarah asked me to drop in the post, on Eileen Myle's Instagram feed, halfway through Meggie Nelson's The Argonauts, and eventually in my inbox inviting me to Celeste Dupuy-Spencer's most recent show, Wild and Blue, at Marlborough Contemporary this past fall.
Los Angeles based painter Celeste Dupuy-Spencer frequently mines news stories and her own personal experiences for her work's content, producing contemporary genre paintings that are politically charged but ambiguous in meaning. Most of the twelve paintings and five drawings featured in "Wild and Blue"—the first solo exhibition in New York for DupuySpencer, who was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial—were made after the 2016 presidential election. Overall, the selection foregrounded the complexity and texture of American life today.
Young queer artists today do not face the same kind of social and health crisis as their predecessors in the ’80s and ’90s - when Felix Gonzalez-Torres commemorated the loss of his lover, Ross, to AIDS, and made his sink sculptures in the wake of the epidemic. Many young artists are now free to focus on the joys of life, rather than lamentations of death.
With a wry observation of detail and a near-Fauvist palette, the American figurative painter—a standout in this year’s Whitney Biennial—intertwines the personal and the political. She also works fast: in her characteristically small-scale “Durham, August 14, 2017,” she commemorates the recent toppling of a Confederate statue in front of a North Carolina courthouse, showing the crumpled metal soldier defeated in sunlit grass, the smudgy legs of protesters in the background.
Today's painting attempts to reconcile dreams, lived histories and the urgent task of modelling new futures". David Greer reflects on the ascendence of figurative painting in recent New York exhibitions - including works by Lisa Brice, Jordan Casteel, Peter Doig, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Mark Thomas Gibson and Emily Mae Smith - and the critical questions it poses about which bodies we depict, for whom and to what end.
Paintings by artists such as Celeste Dupuy-Spencer representing strong butch women of in their lives.
Jordan Casteel paints the street life of Harlem and its black residents, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer the quirky, and often decrepit, trappings of whiteness. But don't let their subject matter fool you. At heart, these two young artists—both of whom are having buzz-worthy solo shows in New York galleries right now— share a common idea: that to deal with our racist past and present, we need to see the world with empathy and care. The results are compelling, and transformative, and, in very different ways, beautiful.
In Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s first solo show in New York, “Wild and Blue,” don’t expect a respite from polarizing conversations around class, gender, and race. The paintings, now on view at Marlborough Contemporary, are densely populated tableaux that are painstakingly detailed, attributing personalities to a host of characters: demons, cops, cats, lovers, friends, and foes. But just as much as she shows a commitment to specificity, her paintings often edge toward the symbolic.
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s voice hints at what type of lover she might be; it’s husky and deep, given texture by the packs of Marlboros that so frequently make appearances in her Instagram photographs, along with The River, her kitten. There’s a painting in “Wild and Blue,” an exhibition of her work at Marlborough Contemporary open through October 7, that does the same.
Art is always political. Shoe design, ceramics, tapestry: all creative acts are made within historical and political contexts. But artists express their politics in different modes. Some critique indirectly, as in, say, the femininity-satirizing works of Sarah Lucas. But others work much closer to the headlines.
When I stop into the Chinatown studio that Los Angeles gallerist Nino Mier keeps for his artists, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer is working on a big still life painting composed of several parts: a newspaper clipping of Muhammad Ali’s dissent of the Vietnam war draft, a recreation of Picasso’s Guernica, and books on a shelf including “Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War” and “Preparation for the Next Life,” a work of fiction by Atticus Lish set on the outskirts of the Iraq war.
This week, Trump supporters — racist T-shirts and all — appear in a West Hollywood exhibition, artists stage a telethon to raise funds for an old-age home, and more.
The Whitney Museum of American Art has revealed a lineup of 63 participants for the 2017 Whitney Biennial – the first Biennial held in the Whitney’s home in the Meatpacking District. Co-curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, the Biennial will open at the Whitney Museum of American Art on March 17 and continue until June 11, occupying two gallery floors of the Whitney as well spaces throughout the Museum.
This week, Trump supporters — racist T-shirts and all — appear in a West Hollywood exhibition, artists stage a telethon to raise funds for an old-age home, and more. A woman with a champagne glass in hand scratches her back a few feet away from an expensive Rothko painting. Bemused and gleeful Trump supporters gather, wearing shirts with slogans such as “Blue Lives Matter.” Two girls in cotton shorts cat-fight in an alley. A guy with midcentury taste, wearing a wife-beater, leans over his MacBook, which he’s propped up beside a record player.
Scott Hug’s a good artist who knows, or knows of, many other good artists. And he’s pulled just over a hundred of them together for this jigsaw puzzle of a summer group show about being outside the social norm and loving it. Give a quick look around and you’ll spot tributes to all sorts of dare-to-be-different heroes: Elizabeth Taylor in a tough-talking Kathe Burkhart portrait; Nina Simone, as enshrined in a rec-room altarpiece by Chris Bogia.
CELESTE DUPUY-SPENCER'S wry, and sometimes ominous, paintings possess a self-deprecating humor. This tendency is spelled out explicitly in her painting How to Scare People and Alienate Your Friends. Here, a ghost, smoking a cigarette and drinking wine, reads a book of the same name. In Eviction Notice the danger appears to be eminent as a commune of renters react in fay and dramatic poses to bad news; an eviction slip is handed over to the most central figure in the painting who has chosen to ignore it in favor of his own distress.
The specter of language forever shrouds invocations of the body. And if seeing is believing, “Leidy Celeste Nicole,” a group show curated by Lauren Cornell, conjures the manifold spirits of discourse to bold effect. Ostensibly a show about painting and its permutations, the exhibition offers a mordant meditation on the body in contemporary culture.
The title of this rousing three-person exhibition implies that you should be on a first-name basis with its artists, Leidy Churchman, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Nicole Eisenman. And you ought to, if only because they share so much with you: revealing sketchbooks, portraits of friends and lovers, proprietary recipes for art making.