Leeza Meksin – Artist Feature
Hoist Store Shed, Leeza Meksin’s most recent exhibit at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) has now concluded but it has left a mark with me and I’m certain with many others. Leeza’s work which spans painting and site specific installations continues to evolve and expand with each new project. I have been admiring her work for years and feel the most recent show is uniquely sharp for both it’s material aptitude and it’s challenging posture as work that does not depict, or rely on tropes but challenges traditional methods with a heartbeat.
I refer to her work almost as a living thing because to me it very much feels this way. I can’t help but think of the work of Eva Hesse, a multi-media artist in the mid twentieth century who challenged definitions of painting, sculpture and drawing with her provocative and almost political studio habits. Eva’s work was not easy to define and it shared her attention, her obsessions, and her refusal to make work like others had before her.
It is clear to me, that Meksin does not treat or think about materials in the traditional sense or even in the fetishized sense. Both of these reflect a certain ownership with the process as identity. Contrary to this logic, the pieces in Hoist Store Shed reflect a fluid yet unpredictable conversation between the air pockets that have vacuum sealed paint, socks, and more of the ready made.
For Meksin to have such fluid and open respect and flexibility for materials and their growth in real time speaks to her connection with the physical senses of art making. It also is a coy nod to politics, to perception, gender and even the market. Often her materials are consumable and fashionable, things we wear for function or fashion.
The urge to want to touch the surface and the confusing way that these materials are symbiotic and somehow logical is surprising and curious to me all at once.
My favorite piece from this exhibit is Packing (Touch Screen), 2018 which is made with fabric dye, oil stick, linen, baby socks, and vacuum formed plastic on linen. This piece, spanning 50×60 inches is divided into quadrants and it’s surface undulates with materials and marks each solidly staking their ground on the rectilinear frame.
The importance of each decision in this piece is clear but also just as clear is the chance and possibility of the vacuum sealed process solidifying pieces in ways Meksin could not have predicted. This surrendering to process makes me feel this artists knows how to control her materials but also considers them allies in the making. The materials and the way they live through the work are just as important if not more important than any one form they may represent.
Items of clothing, artifacts of the human body, decorative and cheaply made items, vacuum sealed, patched together, strewn about – all within the rectilinear frame are each uniquely composed as if they could only be positioned within the frame this way.
Mark making in her work varies through her pieces and can be attributed to the handles of a bag draped over a yellow-green painted purse or the wrinkles of a vacuum sealed object that form ridges and creases along the surface. These marks reflect both the earth and the store- bought all at once.
Often artists channel their would be peers from previous generations, a sort of hello to artists from the past that challenged the status quo. Just as often artists conjure and will their pieces in existence in a fight to the end. These frameworks are not mutually exclusive but it is important to note they both have their roles in an artist’s studio.
Meksin and her materials & tools are like a two person team often walking together but sometimes chasing each other. The materials are given freedom and represent a logic and philosophy at the heart of Meksin’s practice. A philosophy that is certainly collaborative but with whom I can not specifically name. The ability to be respectful of the past but ready for a collaboration with one’s self and the materials is where I think Meksin really shines – the work is future tense.
Unpacking these paintings as a viewer, I imagine is just as fun as creating them.
I urge you to follow Leeza along her busy and already successful career. Leeza is Full Time faculty at Columbia University School of Arts and the Founder of Ortega y Gasset Projects in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently working on a site-specific commission for The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Massachusetts, which will be on view from August 2019 to August 2020.
Leeza Meksin Website: www.meksin.com
Leeza Meksin Instagram: @leezameksin