CCA Wattis Institute Announces Solo Exhibition of San Francisco-based Artist Léonie Guyer

Léonie Guyer, Gift, 2006 (installation detail), collection of the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, New Lebanon, NYLéonie Guyer, Gift, 2006 (installation detail), collection of the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, New Lebanon, NY

San Francisco-based artist Léonie Guyer (b. 1955, New York City) creates paintings, drawings, and books that are intimate in scale and minimalist in sensibility, yet are also expansive, idiosyncratic, and deeply nuanced. Consisting mostly of abstract shapes, some of her works are painted on wooden panels or marble fragments, others are drawn on paper, and others are painted directly onto walls in site-responsive installations. This exhibition, titled form in the realm of, is the first monographic institutional showing of her work that will also feature newly commissioned work. It opens at CCA Wattis Institute on October 18 and remains on view until December 15, 2018. It is curated by CCA Wattis Director and Chief Curator Anthony Huberman as part of the institute’s 20th anniversary programming.

As an artist, Guyer rejects language. She is drawn to the moment that precedes it, and her paintings locate a space that we can’t yet recognize, name, or describe. She is seeking an experience that is at the edge of visibility: pre-language, pre-shape, pre-geometry.  

Scale plays an important role in Guyer’s work. In her mind, an artwork is a place where countless decisions are condensed and compacted together, and she works to intensify that concentration by keeping her paintings small and reduced down to their bare essentials: color, surface, and shape. She tries to do the most with the least.

“A simple dot or a line,” Guyer says, “would not be idiosyncratic enough.” The shapes she draws are nuanced and precise but also amorphous and even a bit awkward. They could be formal abstract compositions, but also a hieroglyphic form of language, an ancient or secret symbol, or a mark on a graphic score, and they combine the character and texture of each. In that sense, they are the opposite of ornament: They aim to make painting feel stranger, not more comfortable. We could call these shapes beautiful, but only because they are imperfect.

Please click here for the full press release for Léonie Guyer: form in the realm of. Hi-res images can be found here.

Léonie Guyer: form in the realm of will be on view during CCA Wattis's public 20th anniversary celebration Jackpot!—a game show-themed party featuring music, cake, food trucks, dancing, and entertainment with emcee Chris Sams as Arty McDeal and DJ Irwin Swirnoff. Event information can be found here.