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Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive announce Linda Stark / MATRIX 250

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California (BAM/PFA) present Linda Stark / MATRIX 250 on October 18–December 22, 2013.

Linda Stark / MATRIX 250 is the first solo museum exhibition by the Los Angeles–based artist, who has been making figurative and abstract paintings since the late 1980s. The exhibition showcases approximately fifteen works made over the last two decades, many of which conflate the surface textures of the paintings with various aspects of the female body, primarily flesh. Each of these modestly scaled paintings is the result of a time-intensive and material-rich artistic process, resulting in work that may at times seem more sculptural than painterly.

Inspired by transcendent, universal themes, as well as common utilitarian patterns, Stark’s distinctive body of work is organized around central motifs: spirals, rotations, weave patterns, fountains, flames, crosses, flesh, animals, and water. While working as a temp in a law firm, for instance, Stark became fixated with the herringbone weave pattern of the hardwood floor and started to consider the possibilities of working with this intricate motif in oil. White Weave (1992) is one of many canvases that developed out of this moment. Gradually dripping layers of thick oil paint onto the surface of the canvas, she patiently waits for the individuated lines to dry before adding yet another layer on top—a process that in its entirety can take upward of a year to complete.

The female body, shown in abstracted close-ups, has been a particular focus of her oeuvre, as witnessed in diverse representations of female genitalia and other fragmented body parts (belly buttons, hair, nipples, tattoos, etc.). She gravitates toward charged, forbidden imagery, often confronting that which is taboo, overused, or abject. In Coat of Arms (1991), she lifts a diagram of the endometrium from the popular feminist volume Our Bodies, Ourselves, presenting the female reproductive system in gold paint against a dark, blood-red background. And in Untitled (Two Fountains) (1991) blood seemingly streams forth from two female breasts set amid a fleshy, tactile ground, eventually dripping down off the canvas’s edge.

What emerges from this body of work is a deep interest in human psychology and spiritual subjects, filtered through a playful pop aesthetic. “One could say I’m a confessional artist,” Stark has said, “the work is personal, though I believe that it is through the intensely personal that one can make work that is telling of the human condition, relating to all of humanity.” The artist will travel to Berkeley for an opening talk on Friday, October 18.

University of California,
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA)
Woo Hon Fai Hall
2626 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94720
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11am–5pm,
Friday 11am–9pm
T +1 510 642 0808