Monsoon Season

Featuring new work by Natalie Strait
05 July–05 August, 2022 View Works

Natalie Strait

Monsoon Season

July 5 through August 5, 2022

Opening reception July 7th, 6 - 8PM

Charles Moffett is pleased to present Monsoon Season, a solo exhibition of eight new paintings by Los Angeles-based, Phoenix-born artist Natalie Strait. This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, as well as her solo debut in New York. 

Natalie Strait’s imposing, majestic female figures make their presence known — their sculpturally-molded bodies commanding the full space of the canvas and their unflinching gazes directly confronting the viewer. Her sources draw from vernacular images of women, spanning from vintage pornography discovered on Reddit, to spreads from 1970s Playboys, to the unrelenting scroll of candid pictures of friends and selfies that populate her social media. Using the poses and bodies discovered in those images as an anchor, Strait then introduces details, moments and sceneries both real and imagined to create new worlds of her own, striking a precarious balance of the banal and fantastical. 

Strait sets a tone for each painting by working with broad washes of a singular hue, establishing a restrictive sense of space and a distinct emotional tenor possessed within each canvas. The works at times verge on an otherworldly monochromatic before Strait introduces vivid moments of disruption that draw our eyes to certain details — a bright red nail polish, a flash of purple-dyed hair, the orange corner of a Cheetos bag — which elicit a static of sorts within the painting, alerting the viewer to the imagined world and returning us to the real. 

While the women of Strait’s paintings exude an unquestionable confidence, an undercurrent of performance courses throughout their poses and postures. The performance, though often alluring, also reveals a persistent vulnerability that accompanies a woman’s navigation of the world. “As a woman, I feel I am always curating my own image, if even most often subconsciously,” shares Strait. “How can I project the idea I have of myself outward? How can I project my belonging to certain communities — queer culture, lesbianism, womenhood — outward?” Her subjects grapple with those same questions, yearning for the impossible combination of angles and adornment that can encapsulate and communicate their identities to the viewer. 

The title of the exhibition, Monsoon Season, is based on the period in the artist’s native Arizona when patterns of intense thunderstorms and rain customarily provide the long-sought after relief from the uncompromising heat of high summer. Yet in recent years, the season has been wickedly cut short or nearly ceased to exist at all. It’s this unforgiving climate, pictured in the smoke-filled skies, the arid desert ground, the burnt orange moon, which sets the tone for the paintings throughout the exhibition. And while a general air of stagnation and malaise hovers, the women’s presence is felt, their bodies real, their lives punctuated by the small pleasures we grant ourselves — a night swim on a sweltering night, the stroke of a pet, a junk-food indulgence.  Strait’s paintings capture women in an undeniable state of freedom; in their unapologetic nudity, their occupancy of space, their return of a gaze that has long been one-sided.

Natalie Strait (b. 1997, Phoenix; works in Los Angeles. MFA UNC Chapel Hill 2020, BFA Arizona State University 2018). Through a semi-autobiographic and queer lens, her paintings explore personal and psychological lived realities of womanhood, navigating the interplay between emotional vulnerability and gendered, social-media-enforced performativity. Her work implores audiences to question their preconceived notions in how they view women, and her painted figures defy gendered conventions by taking up space, their bodies dancing between representation and painterly abstraction. Strait recently exhibited in group shows with The Green Family Art Foundation and Thierry Goldberg Gallery.

Works