Sargent’s Daughters is pleased to present rope, straw, and feathers are to sleep on, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Saira McLaren. This will be McLaren’s second solo show with the gallery.
The title is taken from a chapter in The Foxfire Book, a document of traditional Appalachian mountain life. This chapter is on simple bed making using items available to early mountain settlers: grass, sticks, rope and feathers. Making a bed in the grass appealed to McLaren as a way to view this body of work. The paintings are cropped to exclude the ground and sky and have no physical orientation, no weight or perspective. They present a view open to interpretation — we could be looking down in the thickets or up through the brush, which is almost the same viewpoint one has lying in grass or on the forest floor.
The repetitive quivering strokes in the paintings create human and animal mimicry in the leaves, coming in and out of focus, as if the wind is shaking them to and fro. We catch glimpses of what appear to be eyes, but just as quickly they vanish. A view that might be a sunset might also be a reflection. A leaf could be a feather. This patterning reveals the images in time, like blinking while staring at the sky. The paintings create the sensation of either nestling into a landscape or becoming imprisoned by the dense strokes, a duality that reflects both the terror and the pleasure of being alone.
Saira McLaren (b. 1976, Toronto, Canada) lives and works in Brooklyn and the Catskills, NY. She received her BFA from Ontario College of Art & Design, Canada 2003 and has recently exhibited at Essex Flowers, New York and The Willows, Brooklyn. She is a recipient of the 2015 Edward Albee Foundation Residency. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, Time Out New York and New York Magazine. This is her second solo exhibition at Sargent’s Daughters.