Over the course of her career Celeste Dupuy-Spencer has set out to create paintings interrogating the American experience, a subject that she began to believe could not be addressed without attending to the question of religion. The resulting body of work gathered for her exhibition The Chiefest of Ten Thousand offers a depiction of our moment through a series of portraits, religious scenes, and landscapes. Taken together these works present a view that is conflicted, terror-filled, absurd, and marked by a powerful tenderness. This show exposes dark palimpsests of our culture as well as warmth, pleasure, and humor.
This body of work is a record of the deeply felt task of trying to be, and be good, in the contradictions of this moment. The polyvocality the artist brings to each painting, through their images and gestures, make them purposefully hard to grasp, refusing to cohere even as they have a razor sharp affective import. They picture a self that cannot be reconciled as a manifestation of a society that refuses reconciliation. Dupuy-Spencer suggests that there are real and profound ways to save ourselves—finding grace in the mire is an unending and complicated process, but love and community might be an ongoing redemption. The Chiefest of Ten Thousand is on view through November 3 @ Nino Mier Gallery 7313 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles. text by Diana Nawi, photographs by Summer Bowie