September 15 – November 4, 2023
Galerie Lars Friedrich
I can make three or four paintings over nine hours on an average sized stretcher and end up with nothing. A mound of low life green paint is the only thing left after a long day spent purging bad ideas.
The worst of my bad ideas happen when I try to make a good painting. Being good in painting has nothing to do with being virtuous, like it does in life. It has to do with virtuosity, as in being able to make something look convincing or precise, or to make meaning intelligently, or to be cunning about it. In my experience, there is neither virtue nor value in that kind of good painting. This is not to say that trying to make a bad painting yields good ideas either, for they always end up being just as bad.
This is all to be expected because painting is a struggle. Helping others is a struggle too, but it is a virtuous one and without question a necessary and righteous pursuit. I believe people should help one another. I believe in virtuous struggle. I also believe in struggle without virtue, in owing nothing and in having nothing to prove. Take what you need. Help yourself.
Download text and exhibition checklist here.
September 15 – October 29, 2022
New York, NY
RULES takes as its starting point a 2004 painting called Black and White is Dead. Stenciled onto the painting’s center, the phrase comes from a 1960s print ad for color television. Out of time and context, ‘black and white is dead’ is loaded with inflammatory meaning; read as a declaration of fact today, such a phrase can only be understood as simultaneously counterfactual. Made in 2022 during the Supreme Court’s season of moral reversals which changed all the rules, the exhibition's other paintings unfolded like arguments and counterarguments. This time, rules governed the paintings. Next time, the paintings will make the rules.
The exhibition zine/checklist can be downloaded here.
September 3 – November 1, 2020
Kunstverein Nürnberg – Albrecht Dürer Gesellschaft
Lise Soskolne’s first solo exhibition in Germany, Humour Then at the Kunstverein Nürnberg, brings together a group of paintings that suggest a complex interplay between visual culture and its mediation of time. Mostly painted between 1998 and 2006 using appropriated motifs from advertising, Google image searches, psychology textbooks, film, and cinematic paraphernalia, Soskolne’s work outlines the kaleidoscopic and asynchronous space of visual culture at the turn of the millennium, as the language of the online search begins to organize the logic of unauthored and decontextualized images. In a series of self-authored provenance records written in 2020, Soskolne establishes a social history for each painting, documenting the process of sourcing the material and bringing together image and text. They can be downloaded in English here, and in German here.
Operating on both sides of the threshold between language and image, the work in Humour Then is defined by an unresolved relationship between time—explicitly referenced in text—and the motifs: a hand clenching a rose, a pierced sofa, a bar stool bathed in infernal crimson and yellow light, monoprints of models in bikinis fading from one canvas to another. Mutually estranged, language and image overlap in unsettling resonance—like the memory of a joke that isn’t funny anymore.
September 12 – November 22, 2020
Exhibition with Angharad Williams, Annette Wehrmann, Gili Tal, Guillaume Maraud, Josef Kramhöller, Laura Ziegler and Stephan Janitzky, Lise Soskolne, Matt Hilvers, Stephen Willats
The Kunstverein also produced a reader for the exhibition. It includes a commissioned text called Made in Art School which can be downloaded in both English and German here.
July 9 – August 2, 2020
New York, NY
Discovered by B.B. Mandelbrot in 1980, The Mandelbrot Set is a complex fractal that combines aspects of self-similarity with properties of infinite change.
The Mandelbrot Set includes six paintings made between 2006 and 2020, as well as a free limited edition publication produced for the exhibition by Michael Pollard and Svetlana. It can be downloaded here.
An Exhibition in Two Chapters
May 17 – July 12, 2019
The Mishkin Gallery at Baruch College, CUNY
New York, NY
For most of the past two decades, Lise Soskolne’s painting practice has been undertaken without a viewing public and concurrent with her work as an administrator and labor organizer in New York’s nonprofit arts sector. The Work, her first public solo exhibition in New York since 2001, brings together more than thirty paintings made between 1999 and 2016. Most have never before been shown or have not been on view since their initial presentation.
The Work’s first chapter triangulates themes related to time, labor, and gender in a series of paintings that alternate between the faithful application of paint with brushes and the use of tools intended to obliterate the painter’s mark. Documenting the stylistic range of Soskolne’s earlier work and tendency to engage her subjects with sardonic humor, chapter one sets the stage for Bethenny, the exhibition’s second iteration. In a tightly focused series of fourteen densely worked paintings made between 2011 and 2016, Bethenny pictures a sedated moon surrounded by his attendant hallucinations and doubles as a portrait of the distinctly American capacity for self-delusion.
The years Soskolne spent painting in relative isolation while working in the nonprofit sector coincides with an era in contemporary art marked by intensifying professionalization. Being unable and unwilling to do what was required of her to become legible as an artist in an increasingly market-driven industry, and believing in the nonprofit model as a necessary alternative, Soskolne invested her labor there instead. With her participation over the past two decades having been as an employee working in service of the art field rather than as an artist exhibiting within it, The Work also asks, What happens when an artist cannot or does not comply with the conventions necessary to becoming visible?
An illustrated booklet was produced as part of The Work. It included The Joy, a new text about painting which can be downloaded here.
October 18 – December 23, 2018
New York, NY
On view at The Middler from October 18–December 23, 2018, UGG! and other problems brings together four paintings dating back to 2003. Loosely concerning alcohol, women, and the everyday violence of American whiteness, this exhibition was conceived before Brett Kavanaugh’s problems began. But because Kavanaugh’s problems have always been the problems of women, and because painting has always been the domain of men, a connection cannot help but be made.
Yes, we painted. My friends and I, the boys and girls. Yes, we painted. I liked painting. Still like painting. We painted. The painting age, as I noted, was 18, so the seniors were legal, senior year in high school, people were legal to paint, and we—yeah, we painted, and I said sometimes—sometimes we probably painted too much, and sometimes other people painted too much. I liked painting. I still like painting.
October 30 – December 13, 2015
Lise Soskolne, Paintings
February 1 – March 3, 2001
New York, NY
Cinematic fiction meets pictorial illusion in another exhibition without a title.
November 22 – December 20, 1997
In this exhibition curated by Reid Shier, three paintings of film stills were shown concurrently with wall paintings by artist Yunhee Min. Arising from the assertion that cinema had displaced painting’s historical role as a visual storyteller, these screen-sized monochromes depicted 'abstractions' of credits and titles from films which had likewise abstracted conventional cinematic narratives. Feeling compelled at that time, and in that place, to justify painting’s relevance in relation to contemporary pictorial media, the intention was to open up possibilities for painting as a narrative form once again.
December 14 – 20, 1996
Studio 19 (Rodney Graham Studio)