Margie Livingston’s desire to liberate painting from illusion and free herself from the limitations of traditional painting pushed her to articulate and embrace entirely new approaches to making work. For the past four years, she has been dismantling the line between painting and performance. In a hybrid form of Action Painting, performance, and Land Art, she drags constructed paintings across terrain, inscribing the canvases with the ground to what she calls Extreme Landscape Painting or “non-painting painting.” She also employs strategies and methods associated with the construction and carpentry trade as she builds three-dimensional "paint objects" that are made entirely out of acrylic paint, allowing her to directly translate the phenomena of space, light, color and gravity upon these hybrid structures. Solid blocks and logs of paint and sheets of paint reconstituted into “wood” products, such as waferboard and paneling, investigate the properties of paint pushed into three-dimensions.
Inevitably layered with personal history, Livingston’s work also has art-historical connections. In the case of the paint objects—simulacra of building products that experiment with paint’s materiality, render the conventions of minimalism in three-dimensionalpainted form, push paint into the domain of sculpture, nod to the ready-made, and use nonmimetic color to highlight their own artificiality—the obvious links are not just with Frank Stella’s paintings but also with the work of Jackson Pollock, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Lynda Benglis.
However, Livingston’s "paintings" also subvert, challenge, and recontextualize this history. The gesture of individual expression, the “heroic”, and even the autobiographical and craft bias of much historical feminist artwork is sliced by the earth or machinery or obliterated by layers of accident, collaboration, and carpentry skills that draw attention away from the hand of the artist and towards the process itself. But these objects’ indebtedness to earlier artists is only one of their collective dimensions. Another is their evocation, however oblique, of the natural world’s ravaged state.
Margie Livingston received her M.F.A. in painting from the University of Washington and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2001, a period she spent living and working in Berlin. Other awards include a 2019 Vermont Studio Fellowship and MONA FOMA Artist-in-Residence, Launceston, Tasmania; 2014 Artist-in-Residence, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Portland; 2011 Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); the 2010 Neddy Fellowship from the Benkhe Foundation and the 2010 Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust (funded by the Chihuly Foundation); a 2008 Artist-in-Residence at the Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, and the 2006 Betty Bowen Memorial Award. She has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, Amerika Haus-Berlin, and Sawtooth ARI, Lanceston, Tasmania, among others. Margie Livingston's work is included in the permanent collections of the Seattle Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Universiy of WA, Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, Tacoma Art Museum, Microsoft Art Collection, Eugenio Lopez Collection, Joel and Zoe Dictrow Collection, New York, and numerous other private and public collections.
Lewis & Clark College's Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery will host Making a Better Painting. The regional exhibition showcases the work of 18 artists from around the Pacific Northwest who seek to spark conversations about paintings from a practitioner's point of view. Each of the artists address at least one of the four exhibition themes in their work: painting in the expanded field, painting and politics, painting in the Anthropocene and painting after technology.
For the past four years, Margie Livingston has been dismantling the line between painting and performance. In a hybrid form of Action Painting, performance, and Land Art, she drags constructed paintings across terrain, inscribing the canvases with the ground to what she calls Extreme Landscape Painting or “non-painting painting.” Inherent in this process is the use of chance procedures and the knowledge that the ideas change and evolve as she gets into the work.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles announced the opening of two new galleries, “The Earth is a Brush” and “Love,” on Saturday, Jan. 11.
Margie Livingston’s “The Earth is a Brush,” the artist’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery, will be on view through Feb. 15. Miyoshi Barosh’s “Love,” the late artist’s third solo show with the gallery, will also be on view through Feb. 15. Her work combines humor and dystopian irony in a style she dubbed “conceptual pop.”
The Seattle-based artist fastens long straps to a canvas or wooden panel, which is usually covered in several alternating layers of gouache and acrylic paint. Livingston then attaches the straps to a harness inspired by those worn by body builders for strength training, and drags the painting facedown behind her across varying environments, like hiking trails, city parks, and asphalt roads.
Skin—dragged and torn, wrapped and layered, weeping and fossilized—resonates from Margie Livingston’s latest exhibition, Holding it Together. On view at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Livingston’s exhibition offers nine pieces that contemplate structure and form as an enduring plexus. Acrylic and leather are employed as canvases, which become the base by which Livingston plays with and blurs sculpture, painting, and dimensions. These pieces, what Livingston names “paint objects,” reach out from the walls and draw in the light of the gallery, glowing and nearly vibrating, beckoning viewers for a closer look.
Like Wolkoff, Margie Livingston makes sculptural objects from acrylic paint, which she thickens with a gel medium. She pours and pools it into swirls of color. Once it dries, she takes the highly elastic skins and folds or drapes them. Other works are carved from dry chunks of paint into remarkable shapes. Livingston says of her process: “I’m playing with the weight of paint, letting gravity reveal the material’s flexibility.”
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I’m making draped paintings out of white paint skins. Just to clarify, a paint skin is what I get after pouring out whole gallons of acrylic paint to form a sheet and then leaving that sheet to dry. So far, most of my paint skins have been multicolored, but I’m pouring special white skins for the draped paintings, and I’m developing a way to create a white-on- white pattern so the surface of the painting will shimmer in the light, kind of like a damask tablecloth. I stumbled across the idea of making draped paintings when I tied some scraps of dried paint into a big loopy
It started with a hairball. Margie Livingston wondered if she could draw the light filtering through that hairball — and with this challenge, launched herself into an exploration of depicting 3D space in 2D space, but always by first constructing and then copying a model. In order to produce one of her early paintings, Livingston would build a model, often a grid-like structure of string and wood. Then the small object standing in her studio would provide inspiration for an atmospheric, tasteful oil study in space, form and light. But recently those objects, built as models and collectively saved over the years, began to garner as much if not more interest than the paintings.