Maja Ruznic
Geometry of Exile
September 16–November 4, 2023
Opening reception: Saturday, September 16, 6–8 pm

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

Karma presents Geometry of Exile, an exhibition of new oil paintings by Maja Ruznic, open from September 16 to November 4 at 7351 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles. Geometry of Exile is Ruznic’s second exhibition with the gallery. 

Born from her experiences of motherhood and displacement, Ruznic’s work peels back the layers of her own psyche. The artist begins each studio session by improvising with gouache on a small scale. Using what she describes as “muscle memory,” she builds on these works on paper to create her oversized canvases, whose orientation constantly changes  as she scumbles oil paint onto the surface. By rotating her canvases, Ruznic twists her forms into spirals which radiate out from the paintings’ centers to confound any linear narrative. Colors resonate optically, but also reference her studies of mysticism and ritual—black, white, yellow, and red allude to the four humors of premodern medicine as well as the steps of alchemy’s magnum opus, the chemical process of transforming base material into gold.

In recent years, Ruznic has increased the number of layers of thinned-out paint to anywhere from three-to-fifteen passes of oil, causing her once diaphanous contours to solidify into denser, embodied forms. And yet, her figures and shapes still freely intermingle in a process of continuous becoming and dissolving. The Past, the Present and The Future in the Chest of One Man (2023) features an array of characters who wander through the fractured space of the painting, the boundaries of their multihued bodies freely interpenetrating and overlapping. A configuration of shapes merge to create a chimeric figure that structures the entire composition.

The multifaceted tones Ruznic creates through layering radiate a psychological depth appropriate for an artist fascinated with the multifarious unconscious. The combination of chartreuse, a turquoise, purple, and straw-yellow punctuated by flashes of red in the monumental painting March of Holographic Children (2023) is hallucinatory in its intensity. Blocky L-shapes read as feet stampeding their way across the bottom register while what look like bellies and pendulous breasts coalesce in the space above them. Full of forms associated with fertility and childbirth, March of Holographic Children is acidic and intimidating, as demanding as a newborn baby.

Spider Mother (2023) extends Ruznic’s consideration of the invisible labor of motherhood. Bulbous forms in a spectrum of ruddy orange-reds and earthy ochres surround a central carapace-like shape. Arcing lines reminiscent of an arachnid’s legs or a mammal’s ribcage radiate outward, where they meet rectangles of shifting color that act as a frame within the picture plane. Like Louise Bourgeois, one of her strongest influences, Ruznic employs the spider as a symbol of feminine creativity and industriousness. Spiders generate their silken homes from their own bodies and then use them to capture their prey; they have long been associated with creation as well as destruction. Spiderlike, Ruznic spins images that ensnare their viewers in complex forms, drawing us deeper into her syncretic vision of life and death.