Wendell Gladstone: Safe Haven

November 14 - December 19, 2020
  • Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Safe Haven, a series of new paintings by Los Angeles-based Wendell Gladstone. This will...

    Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Safe Haven, a series of new paintings by Los Angeles-based Wendell Gladstone. This will be the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.


    The new paintings in Safe Haven continue the artist’s interest in surreal and psychologically charged spaces, often populated with a cast of humans, animals, and hybrid forms. Expanding upon the idea of a ‘haven’, or a place of refuge, this exhibition conjures the varying degrees in which tenderness and precariousness overlap. Binaries blur between intermingled bodies—what is understood as interior and exterior, bound and liberated, giving and receiving, fluidly shift within a single work. This series examines an unfolding relationship between human connection, power, and safety through notions of gazing and physical contact.

  • WENDELL GLADSTONE

    DOUBLE DUTCH, 2020
    Acrylic on canvas
    84 x 84 inches
  • In paintings such as Double Dutch and Support System, the figures’ long malleable  limbs are tied together arduously, propped up as much as they are weighed down. Each inhabitant’s struggle becomes an integral part to completing the cyclical nature of the artwork; as if a single quiver of the muscles could cause a compositional collapse. The hierarchal struggle amongst the cast of characters often rests on the tips of toes and fingers, evoking a taught embrace that could slip away at any moment. Repeated limbs and faces are frozen in a frenzy of motion—like a Grecian frieze. The heaviness of each figure seems to defy the impending force of gravity as they levitate on groundless hues of pale green, blue and yellow.

     

     

  • WENDELL GLADSTONE

    SUPPORT SYSTEM, 2020
    Acrylic on canvas
    90 x 66 inches
    • WENDELL GLADSTONE Perch, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 84 x 65 inches
      WENDELL GLADSTONE
      Perch, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      84 x 65 inches
    • WENDELL GLADSTONE Squall, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 84 x 62 inches
      WENDELL GLADSTONE
      Squall, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      84 x 62 inches
  • In paintings such as Perch and The Lookout are spaces that at first glance seem naturalistic. Figures climbing trees in the foreground peer at unwitting couples in the background; lions on the periphery study the subject in the center. These paintings have a defined sense of space and the narrative between characters focuses on gaze rather than touch. The psychological tension derives in part from their ambiguous relationship to one another. It is unclear whether characters pursue, stalk, or flirt; or if they are seeking safety from the dangers of the outside world, as refuge and peril oscillate endlessly. Figures stare longingly at each other while crabs, snakes, and cats hide in the perimeters throughout the exhibition, reminding the viewer to scan their own environment of potential threats.

  • WENDELL GLADSTONE

    THE LOOKOUT, 2020
    Acrylic on canvas
    84 x 60 inches
  • Transparent layers of paint function as windows, bringing the physical materiality of the paint and the idea of painting-as-window to the surface, allowing the viewer to literally see through one layer and into the next. Portals of implied stained-glass invoke religious connotations, adding to the celestial and other-worldly nature of the paintings, while deftly manipulated flat blocks of color provide a low relief-like dimensionality. At times mimicking mosaic, terrazzo, or concrete, the artist’s skillful sculptural painting technique can just as easily render ghost-like forms and subtle textures only made visible by certain angles of light. This process allows two different scenes to exist simultaneously on a single plane, effortlessly alternating between opposing weights and mass to create an uneasiness––as if the image could slide right off the canvas.

    • WENDELL GLADSTONE Don Hoffman’s Desktop, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 84 x 62 inches
      WENDELL GLADSTONE
      Don Hoffman’s Desktop, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      84 x 62 inches
  • WENDELL GLADSTONE
    Peacock, 2020
    Acrylic on canvas
    84 x 84 inches
    • WENDELL GLADSTONE Hand in Hand, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 39 x 39 inches
      WENDELL GLADSTONE
      Hand in Hand, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      39 x 39 inches
      Sold
    • WENDELL GLADSTONE Visitor, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 39 x 39 inches
      WENDELL GLADSTONE
      Visitor, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      39 x 39 inches
      Sold
    • WENDELL GLADSTONE Bubble Up, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 39 x 39 inches
      WENDELL GLADSTONE
      Bubble Up, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      39 x 39 inches
      Sold
  • WENDELL GLADSTONE

    UNDERTOW2020
    Acrylic on canvas
    84 x 65 inches
  • In Safe Haven, animals can simultaneously give respite, as seen in the groups of figures which occupy their zoomorphic forms in cramped, cocoon-like ways. Bulls, horses, and peacocks provide an armature for the figures inside, imitating the psyche of its inhabitants. A stretched, elongated figure referencing Michaelangelo’s Pietà is resuscitated by its surrounding caregivers, who breathe life into the central figure—mimicking the expanding wings of a peacock. In Tip of the Hat With the Wind at My Back, a dancing couple is enveloped by the shape of a raging bull, the dip of one partner echoing the kicking motion of the animal. Patterned clothing and bow-tied shoes referencing the regalia of toreros, or bullfighters from Spain, adorn the violent twirl between the two.

    • WENDELL GLADSTONE Tip of the Hat With the Wind at My Back, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 84 x 96 inches
      WENDELL GLADSTONE
      Tip of the Hat With the Wind at My Back, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      84 x 96 inches
  • Following a decade of work, Safe Haven expands the artist’s interest in figurative painting that evokes the space between logic and dreams. Utilizing a large swath of references that span eras and cultures, these paintings call forth historical allegories to touch on contemporary subjects of isolation, power, connection, and instability. Giving license to his subconscious to guide the narratives and structure, the paintings allow for Jungian archetypes and parables of the past to mix with the artist’s personal experience and the zeitgeists of today—culminating in a body of work which shifts mythologically into the present and champions the potential for lucidity to provide a sense of clarity in unsettling times.

     

  • About the Artist

    About the Artist

    Based in Los Angeles, Wendell Gladstone interrogates the hierarchical struggle among a cast of characters as they cycle through chronicles of rapture, unrest, and revolt. With source material ranging from historical European satirical cartoons to Aztec stone carvings, his paintings survey the boundless energy of the human psyche. With a bright, often candy-colored palette layered with transparent mediums that subtly reveal the forms beneath, his works immediately seduce the viewer and only later reveal psychologically charged subtexts.

     

     

    Wendell Gladstone (b. 1972, Boston. Lives and works in Los Angeles) received his BA at Brown University, an MFA in Painting at Claremont Graduate University, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions, including at Shulamit Nazarian, Kravets/Wehby, New York and Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles, and, in 2003, at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. Select museum group exhibitions include the Hammer, Torrance Art Museum, Las Vegas Art Museum, and the Chelsea Art Museum.

  • More on Wendell gladstone..