Carole Vanderlinden
A slipping glance
March 22–May 18, 2024
Opening reception: Friday, March 22, 6–8 pm

Karma, Los Angeles
7351 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, California

Karma presents A slipping glance, an exhibition of recent paintings by Carole Vanderlinden, open from March 22–May 18 at 7351 Santa Monica Boulevard. This is Vanderlinden’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles and her debut at Karma. 

Painting, for Vanderlinden, is both medium and subject. Using collage and hand-mixed oil on paper and canvas, she is spurred to action by the process of painting itself. The resulting works elude distinctions between abstraction and figuration—as Ory Dessau writes in Karma’s forthcoming exhibition catalogue, “the unfixed quality of her practice refers to painting as at once a material domain, a particular history, and an externalization and projection of an inner self.” While her paintings can be representational, they are never motivated by verisimilitude. She at once pulls from and dismantles her source material, which ranges from specific art and material histories to the quotidian. Vanderlinden approaches beauty but never succumbs to its seductions, instead destabilizing any reliance on the expected. Color connects otherwise divergent works: she uses a single palette for multiple works, relishing in the nuanced hues that result from her paints’ contamination over time.

The exhibition’s title, A slipping glance, references Willem de Kooning, who famously called himself as “a slipping glimpser.” Perception, Vanderlinden’s work suggests, is mercurial—just as the familiar comes into focus, it slips away. The loose and spirited brushstrokes of Le boudoir rose (all works 2023), a still life of flowers in a pitcher, and the abstract Distivello share the gestural quality that defined the paintings of de Kooning and his fellow Abstract Expressionists. Unlike those forebears, however, Vanderlinden resists the entrenchment of style as artistic identity by working in a firmly anti-heroic mode. Here, her paintings are intimately sized, and rather than presenting her works as distinct, self-enclosed entities by encasing them in traditional frames, she creates hand-painted artist frames that trouble the boundary between art and the world. In the simultaneously abstract and representational Sunrise, among others, the frames extend the picture plane outward, while that of Diabolique is patterned with short, repeating stripes that contrast strongly with the brushy, verdant scenery of the canvas. 

Recently, Vanderlinden has taken up painting domestic architecture as a means of parsing concepts of intimacy, instability, and shelter. The structures she portrays are reduced to their barest elements—roofs, windows, doors, chimneys, all depicted through only the most essential forms—and yet retain their own specificity. The small wooden building in Cabanon, made almost entirely of insistently scrawled vertical and horizontal lines and filling the entire width of the composition, feels claustrophobic, as if it were entrapping the viewer. The windows on the seemingly uninhabitable two-story house at the center of Diabolique resemble an aghast face, as if the house were inhabited by a malevolent spirit. The world of Rifugio is brighter, the structure’s basement aglow and the gray sky streaked with beguiling rosy light. 

In the works that veer more deeply into abstraction, Vanderlinden calls on the oeuvres of numerous European modernists. Le mystère Schwitters evokes the titular German Dadaist in both name and form, as Vanderlinden employs collage—one of the mediums for which he was best known—layering cut pieces of paper painted in largely primary colors into a balanced, geometric composition that crackles with energy. Le present est limité, with its central red cross, hews closer to the formalism of Kazimir Malevich’s early Suprematist compositions. As with all of her references, however, it is her departures from established modes that crystalize her own interventions in history. Unlike these avant-gardists’ abstractions, the evidence of her hand is always present in Vanderlinden’s painting, pointing back to the complex, mediated subjectivity of the artist.