Seed, Stone, Mirror, Match

A Solo Exhibition of New Paintings by Lily Stockman
04 September–18 October, 2020 Press Release PDF
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Charles Moffett is pleased to announce, “Seed, Stone, Mirror, Match,” a solo presentation of new work by Los Angeles-based painter Lily Stockman, on view at the gallery’s Canal Street space from September 4 through October 18. 

The body of works, which Stockman created in stolen bursts during the pandemic lockdown (which shortly followed the birth of her second child), evolved throughout the seismic cultural reckoning of the spring and summer of 2020, a period Stockman refers to as “everything, all at once.” In Stockman’s physically closed-off world during this six-month period, she found new meaning in the details of her surroundings: the company of a praying mantis, the doctor’s cell phone number jotted down on an electric bill, a packet of flower seeds mailed from her mother, labeled “PLANT ASAP GOOD BLOOMER” in her mother’s comforting script. Stockman designates these items, and others that inspired her mindset while creating the body of works, to be “transitional objects on their way to metaphor.”

Stockman creates her works flat on sawhorses and builds them up layer by layer, using various oils and thinning solvents to manipulate the opacity of each coat of paint. Many of her paintings feature symmetrical, voluptuous shapes that are drawn from nature and give hints to plants, birds, and places. Stockman’s use of color and shape draws on her lifelong affinity for horticulture, agriculture, and environmental studies—in the latter of which she received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University. 

A large number of art-historical contexts inform Stockman’s distinctive vernacular of abstraction, from the compositions of Fra Angelico’s jewel-like fifteenth-century frescoes, to the tradition of seventeenth-century Mughal miniature painting, to the language of American abstract painters of the twentieth century: Milton Avery’s New England coastline, Agnes Martin’s desert southwest, and Billy Al Bengston’s Los Angeles, to name a few. 

With respect to her exploration of the floating figure in a delineated space, as well as her light touch and confident freehand line, she is influenced by significant time spent in Mongolia as an apprentice in Buddhist thangka painting and a year spent in Jaipur studying Indian miniature painting.

The exhibition’s title, “Seed, Stone, Mirror, Match,” comes from a list of items Stockman discovered in her gardening trug a few months into creating the new body of works, which she later determined to have been ‘gifts’ left by her older child, a toddler. Stockman found overall inspiration in the grouping’s resemblance to “the physical grammar of a Mary Ruefle poem about the odds and ends around the house that spark memories.” In continuing her creative process after the discovery of these objects, a new layer of inspiration was Stockman’s recognition of Ruefle’s poems as “exquisite blueprints for the structure of a painting; the copy layout and graphic design of Ruefle’s poems offers an atypical reading experience comprised of staggered spacing, crossings-out, and unconventional use of capitalization and italics.” Stockman’s visual translation of Ruefle’s poetry is particularly pronounced in several of the show’s works, namely “Benediction,” “New Dahlia,” and Pecans, Marfa.”

“Seed, Stone, Mirror, Match” marks Stockman’s first solo presentation with Charles Moffett under representation, and third show with the gallery overall. Stockman has exhibited with Cheim & Read in New York, Timothy Taylor in London, Jessica Silverman in San Francisco and Regen Projects in Los Angeles.