Unnatural Life

10 Feb — 31 Mar 2017 at Emerson Dorsch Gallery in Miami, United States

28 FEBRUARY 2017
Unnatural Life, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Emerson Dorsch
Unnatural Life, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Emerson Dorsch

Emerson Dorsch is proud to announce that Elisabeth Condon’s exhibition Unnatural Life will launch our new space in Miami on February 10, 2017. The exhibition of new paintings will be on view to the public February 11-March 7. The new space is located at 5900 NW 2nd Ave in Miami. The opening party will celebrate Condon’s new exhibition from 6 to 9pm on Friday, February 10th.

To accompany the exhibition, EDG published a limited edition print and a brochure featuring an essay by Erica Ando.

Elisabeth Condon is a fearless painter whose work has been building momentum especially in the last four years. The paintings are becoming bolder, more singular and more confident in Condon’s own painterly language. She has pushed her aesthetic to the breaking point – and here is where she digs in.

“This is a tremendous time for Elisabeth’s paintings. She roars in them, bringing to bear all her fierce emotion and formidable skill,” says Tyler Emerson-Dorsch, EDG’s director and curator.

Condon relays the root for the frisson in this series: “Décor is my original aesthetic and my secret sin…” going back to them creates a “dance of elements to a breaking point.” With the perspective of distance and time, she has the confidence and courage to admit her origin story, and weaves Van Luit and Greeff decorative patterns into her pours, which have been a mainstay of her paintings since 2004. The tangle generates a compelling tension.

Condon’s luscious paintings layer vivid abstraction and decorative flowers and birds. These paintings seem at first to be pure pleasure, for they revel in color, paint and compositional complexity. Look longer and uneasiness blooms. The symbols depicted within the paintings bear heady and emotional references to feminism, environmental and national politics. Condon manages this with loaded symbols – bird and flower representations culled from decorative fabric patterns in her mother’s home – and by an extraordinary control over paint’s materiality and color and its emotional range. The symbol is a hook calling for a feminist reading of the history of decoration, especially in the United States, and a feminist critique of North American abstract expressionist painting by extension. Erica Ando writes in her essay about UNNATURAL LIFE: “Condon’s paintings permit birds, flowers and decoration to sit alongside expressions of angst and tensity, as well as beauty, as part of women’s, and human, experience.” This permission “manifests a feminist acknowledgement of individual experience.”

Elisabeth Condon is a painter, traveler, and Chinese scroll aficionado, whose work re-interprets Chinese principles of balance for an information-saturated world. A Christian Scientist in her youth, she rebelled in her early teens, finding transcendence and trouble in glam rock and club culture. She discovered theory and conceptual art during studies at UCLA, Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design and The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Ten years imbedded in New York’s painting scene fed her determination to find her own way as a painter and she set out to do it, travelling to China numerous times, northern California, upstate New York, Florida’s west and southeast coasts, the Everglades, the Grand Canyon, Spain, Paris and Australia, among other places. In each she assiduously sketches the landscape to use later in her paintings as source or index.

She splits her time between a studio in New York City and her own wild oasis in Tampa, FL. She paints every day from noon into the wee hours. Her house boasts a wonderful old armchair, where she reads voraciously while sipping Chinese tea. The piles of books and their titles suggest her range as a thinker and her experience as a teacher.

Condon received the 2015 New York Pulse Prize for the body of work she created during a six-month residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel Shanghai in 2014.

In 2015 Condon received the New York Studio School Alumni Association's Mercedes Matter Award. Other awards and fellowships include a Hanban Confucius Institute Understanding China Fellowship, Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, Florida Individual Artist Grant and numerous University research grants. Upcoming and recent artist residencies include Wave Hill's 2017 Winter Workspace residency in Riverdale, NY, Art & History Museums, Maitland, FL, a Hemera Foundation Tending Spaces Artist Fellowship, the Florida Everglades (AIRIE), Swatch Art Peace Hotel Shanghai, Grand Canyon National Park, Wupatki National Monument, Corporation of Yaddo, Fountainhead and Red Gate, among others. In 2017 she will complete a public art commission for Tampa's International Airport.

Condon has exhibited in venues such as the Museum of Fine Art in St. Petersburg, FL, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, Shenghua Art Centre, Nanjing and 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery, New York. Condon's work is held in public collections including the US Embassy Beijing, Swatch Art Peace Hotel Traces Collection Shanghai, and The Sweeney Print Collection at the Museum of Fine Art in St. Petersburg, FL. She has shown with and been represented by Emerson Dorsch of Miami since 2006.