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Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht Presents Laura Owens
Laura Owens, Untitled, 2005, Oil, collage on linen, 95,8 x 109,2 cm. Collection of Simona and Francesco Fantinelli, London.

MAASTRICHT.- Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht presents Laura Owens: paintings & studies 1994 – 2006, on view through 19 August 2007. There are not many painters around at the moment who can evoke such far horizons and such a sense of freedom in their work as Laura Owens (1970 Euclid, Ohio), an American artist based in Los Angeles. Owens succeeds in making painting a challenging adventure for both the eye and the intellect of the viewer, in a way that is seductive yet disturbing. Owens blends the traditions of art history with those of applied and naïve art and abstract themes. Instead of experiencing the art of the past as a burden, Owens manages to use the history of ‘making pictures' as a force in her work. It is the first time that 23 paintings of Laura Owens has been exhibited in the Netherlands, along with 90 preliminary studies that have never before left her atelier.

From the mid-nineties, Laura Owens' work opened up a new critical area of painting, which secured her a retrospective in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles at the incredibly young age of 32. Her work provides resistance against monolithic thinking, is consistently diffuse and addresses a wide range of subjects that are partly inherent to painting, such as the formal effect of perspective space, and also more general, such as telling stories and the cyclic patterns of nature.

Owens' virtuoso command of the profession arouses much admiration, as does her inventive appropriation of images and visual systems from all sorts of eras, categories and corners of the earth. These include 18 th -century embroidery, Chinese landscape painting, Japanese prints, Op art, Color Field painting, textile patterns, folk art and her own photography. Owens' habit of switching from landscape to abstract to figurative and back again conjure up free associations in the mind of the viewer.

Owens' works seem to be made for pleasure, but they keep exploring new areas. With her casual eclecticism and diversity of cooperative ventures (she has made works with other artists, and organised exhibitions such as Cavepainting (2002) with Peter Doig and Chris Ofili), Owens provides resistance to traditional ideas about heroic isolation and ego-oriented signature style. In this way, she creates a feeling of collective creativity and ‘something for everyone', with odes to the Bayeux tapestry, decorative flower still lifes and atmospheric fairytale scenes. Things that were invisible or undervalued in painting are brought to the fore in her work.

‘I feel like what's most important for painting is that painting should open up laterally to include other cultures and things that don't immediately resonate as a painting but are obviously of equal contribution to the genre'.

Laura Owens lives and works in Los Angeles. She trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence (1992) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the CalArts (1994). She has had major solo exhibitions in America, Japan and Europe, in the Museum of Contemporary art, Los Angeles, the Aspen Museum, Aspen, (2003), the Shiseido Gallery, Japan (2005) and the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2006), among others. Her work is represented in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Arts Institute of Chicago and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

The exhibition has been prepared and organised by the Kunsthalle Zürich. An illustrated oeuvre catalogue has been published by the Kunsthalle Zürich in collaboration with JRP | Ringier. The texts are by Gloria Sutton, Rod Wengham, Beatrix Ruf and Laura Owens in conversation with colleague artists; 224 pp. ISBN 10:3-905770-11-3. € 47.

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