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Los Angeles Times

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. But the Max Hetzler exhibition was ending in three days, and she was in limbo, relaxing at her one bedroom, cat-filled Elysian Heights bungalow. It was inside this “anti-minimalist, repurposed tool shed” which overflows with Lilliputian mise en scenes comprised of toy train set figurines enacting scenes of hijinx and hysteria along every window sill, bookshelf, and planter, that she considered what her next project might be. Dupuy-Spencer listened to NPR that morning, smoked one of the day’s first Marlboro Reds, and struggled to come up with an idea for a new painting for a February group show in Brussels with her primary dealer, Nino Mier. “I just didn’t have an idea,” she says. “I was a completely depleted person.”