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OnlineMar 26, 2024

In Portland, Lauren Luloff Creates New Formations

Lauren Luloff’s solo show at Dunes.fyi showcases her first foray into figuration while maintaining her recurring motifs of grids, tiles, waves, and mazes.

Review by Kari Adelaide Razdow

Colorful paintings on silk adorn the wall of the gallery for Lauren Luloff's solo show.

Installation view of Lauren Luloff’s solo show at Dunes.fyi in Portland, Maine. Courtesy of the gallery.

Lauren Luloff’s paintings on silk often emerge from en plein air observations of flowers, plants, trees, and bodies of water, and her recent works have developed to become more geometrical, with ardent grids, mosaics, and mazes. The twelve new paintings now on view in a solo exhibition at Dunes.fyi, in Portland, Maine, are part of what Luloff describes as her nocturnal paintings. Created in her studio in Lubec, Maine, the artist often painted the pieces during and after the winter sunsets. While occasional clusters of flowers and full blooms appear, they emerge through colorized verticals, steady lines, and pixels, such as in Winter and Glowing Question (2023), a large-scale portrait of Luloff’s home on a snowy bank by water, surrounded by images such as cherries, open-and-closed purple buds, constellations, flipped question marks (as though seen in a mirror), and a staircase.  

These new works showcase recurring fragments of grids, tiles, waves, and mazes. Two Hands (2022), presents blue cresting waves and finger-like curls of water that were inspired by envisioning wave images while listening to a local piano concert. Figures in Fizz (2023), one of the first paintings to introduce figuration, includes enigmatic bodies and hourglass forms. Bird, Watching (2023) is bordered by lilacs and gold rings, representing what Luloff describes as “a bird in darkness, a form that took shape on its own, and arose as a symbol or beacon.” 

Luloff’s process often involves cutting her whole silk paintings, which she then rearranges, sews, and binds into new formations, but these particular works were created on solid sheets of silk, aside from the arduously painted strips of silk that wrap around the sides of each painting. Some of her paintings are made to cut from the onset, pushing through any possible hesitations to assemble new arrangements.

A picture of a multicolored, mosaic-like painting.

Lauren Luloff, Bird, Watching, 2023. Dyed Silk, 68.75″ x 47″. Courtesy of the gallery.

Luloff recently mentioned in a phone conversation, “I arrive at a pattern by distilling the complexities of the colors I see around me into shapes to represent the natural world without being too didactic.” A few years ago during a visit to her open studio at Interlude Artist Residency, I recall her talking about one particular lilac tree and its drift of colors that she was drawn to. Her aim, she shared, was to paint the blooms along with their “tornado of colors” from multiple angles at once. Last summer, during walks to the shore to catch the low tide near her home in Lubec, she would talk about where she would later return, alone, to set up her table and capture the purple wolfsbane and goldenrod. 

Lately, Luloff’s silk paintings are diaristic; as she mentioned she “records daily observations, feelings, and bewilderment.”  Perhaps her painting process has shifted to accommodate a desire of circling her attention around her chosen subjects, returning in solitude, hovering, and interpreting color into squares and vertical lines no matter where her painting table is set up, distilling colors of boats at night or whatever the season allows.


Lauren Luloff’s solo show at Dunes.fyi in Portland, Maine is on view through March 28, 2024. 

Kari Adelaide Razdow

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