On view this month in Los Angeles, artist Mira Dancy presents Madonna Undone, an exhibition of new work at Night Gallery that marks her fourth exhibition with the gallery. Continuing the artist’s studied and lyrical approach to the canvas space, Madonna Undone sees Dancy executing her signature take on chromatic figuration into expanded compositional fields, her subjects exuding strength within vivid naturalistic scenes. Dancy moved from New York City to Los Angeles in 2020, and evidence of this shift in environment is alluded to throughout the exhibition: wide skies, the craggy forms of mountains, and the more impressionistic features of the landscape, such as the sun’s intensity and the heat of the air.
Encompassing paintings, plexiglass elements, and ephemeral sand gestures, Madonna Undone underscores self-determination in both the physical and spiritual realms. Dancy considers several of her new works “inversions” of annunciation paintings, or musings on a Madonna “Without Child.” The iconic Madonna is reconceptualized from a human vessel to an emblem of individual agency and the sacred nature of choice. Sweeping linework and intricate structures of color and shape echo the complex interiority of this figure. In Per the Pendulum, viewers encounter the continual mirroring of a single self, giving the canvas an expansive quality brimming with embodied power. Dancy’s work here is precise and tight in its layering, her canvases exuding vivid energy and ample movement, with lines given less weight. The result are works where color seems to work in tandem with the line, emphasizing the movement of the brush while leaving colorful swirls in its wake.
Elsewhere, Immaculate Reversal seeks to unravel the subjugation of the traditional annunciation painting. At the work’s center is a vibrant, jagged form resembling a chrysalis or womb, seemingly on the edge of transformation. Dancy endeavors here to override the sexist underpinnings of the “immaculate conception” by suggesting, instead, a divine abortion. From Dancy’s striking geometries emerge declarations of autonomy, refracting the darkness of our shared reality into the possibility of finding new light in new images.
Throughout, Dancy’s operations here exemplify a painter working at the top of her field. The show closes November 5th.
– D. Creahan
Night Gallery [Exhibition Site]