“Go then if you must, but remember, no matter how foolish your deeds, those who love you will love you still.” ― Sophocles
The classical Greek passion play Antigone centers around the fate of a young woman from a royal family who, after a series of violent political and military events culminating in the death of her brother, finds herself forced to choose between her own safety and her sense of love and honor, between the will of her sovereign and the urgency of her mourning. In one of the most evocative and soul-aching quotes from the tragedy, in sealing her own demise Antigone tells her cruel and vindictive king, “I was born to love, not to hate. That is my nature.” That is also where painter Alexandra Grant begins the expressive appeal of the monumental works on paper at her newest exhibition, “Born to Love” which closes Saturday, July 6 at Lowell Ryan Projects in West Adams.
Grant’s work across a wealth of media has always centered around the continuum between text and abstraction, which is to say, between information and experience, in visual art. Across painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, social systems, design and even an independent publishing company focused on artists’ books, Grant’s enduring fascination with the arcane and liminal operations of language has been central to her projects.
And this is part of Grant’s special gift as an artist — a feeling for pursuing her interest in language through many paths, including in this case creating a purely visual corollary that makes it possible to experience the fullness of the work even if you happen to not speak the tongue in which the words are written. In the power and empathetic variations in the heavily layered, abstract parts of the work, Grant offers audiences other entry points.
In the roughly 10 visually electric, intricately detailed, organic, dense and delicate large-scale mixed media paintings on paper on view at Lowell Ryan Projects, Grant offers an experiential mix of layered elements and active processes. Using various pigments and waxes, deployed with pouring, splattering, pooling, dripping and gestural brushwork along multivalent grids and punctuated with fragments of the text-motif “I was born to love not to hate” repeating throughout.
The overall effect is of those words physically struggling to free themselves and emerge from the roiling abstract world. You can almost hear the human voice that speaks them; you can clearly see the deep conviction and raw emotion the compositions convey. Perhaps, if the need arises, you will be inspired to take a principled stand of your own, and choose love.
Lowell Ryan Projects, 4851 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams; Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., through July 6; free. lowellryanprojects.com.
For more information on the artist, check out laweekly.com/meet-an-artist-monday-alexandra-grant.