Debra Anderson is an independent fine art communications consultant. Lori Earley is a New York-based painter whose solo exhibition Fade to Gray is on view at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea through March 22.
Lori Earley is the leading female artist of the burgeoning Pop Surrealism movement. Her melancholic, atmospheric portraits of women with exaggerated eyes, and exotic, elongated figures evoke mystery and longing. Fusing romance and fashion with classicism and modernity, she captures pure emotion and raw beauty, rendering timeless, esoteric portraits.
Earley’s second solo show, Fade to Gray marks a new direction for her. Here she explores the familiar subject of portraiture, but on a more intimate scale. With unparalleled craftsmanship, she presents both deeply personal and stylized works–complex drawings and paintings that are painstakingly detailed and highly refined. Her surrealist style, coupled with her technique of figure elongation, confronts the voyeur with a new intensity and sense of confidence. Her meticulous attention to detail and texture accent her mastery of technique, resulting in flawlessly executed studies. She continues to build mystery and narrative in her evocative portraits through the expressiveness in the eyes of her figures, and her distorted figurative realism.
Earley’s color choice is a predominant indicator of her moods and emotional phases, which range from sensual to dark. In Fade to Gray, her work is primarily absent of color, resulting in a washed-out palette. Her modernist, subdued compositions suggest the conscious restraint of color, a contrast to her typically vibrant, saturated works. Here, she paints pallid, ghost-like portraits; all her figures have white hair. Despite their ashen appearance, they possess a demure beauty, exuding a poignant–almost hypnotic–intensity. Drained both physically and emotionally from arduous hours of labor-intensive painting for her previous exhibition, these new works reflect the artist’s current state of being.
Earley continues to be inspired by high fashion, collecting a cornucopia of images, magazines layouts, and photographs of models and fashion designs that capture her attention. Luxurious textures, furs, Victorian and Art Nouveau-style fashions, eccentric hairstyles, and images of the female figure are all sources of inspiration for the artist. Her combination of worldly beauty magnified by innate human emotion with Neo-Mannerist techniques elevates the female form from a mere woman to a mystical being, a kind of clairvoyant creature with an undeniably cryptic personal story. Working in a highly intuitive, yet technical process, Earley begins each work with a line drawing before developing it into a full-sized painting with multiple layers, or rendering it as a drawing. These collectible, one-of-a-kind drawings are on view for the first time in Fade to Gray.