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Artist Clare Rojas is a woman with many alter egos. One is her banjo-playing musician pseudonym “Peggy Honeywell,” whose bluegrass tunes inform her new abstract series. The large-scale paintings are patterned after reverberations, musical notes and the Simon and Garfunkel song, “For the Asking.” The artworks face each other in a spacious second-story room overlooking Central Park at the Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld Project Space.
The vibrant geometric works accentuate the space, picking up black-and-white angles that correspond with the railings and wall moldings. Rojas created 24 entirely new paintings for this exhibition, all cohesive to one another. She envisions and produces her paintings simultaneously, hanging the canvases vertically while she moves from piece to piece adding new elements. This allows for fluidity in her seemingly rigid, hard-edged works, as certain pieces continue with shapes and forms used in other paintings. Rojas is said to have been playful with this series, sometimes turning paintings upside down during the installation because “it felt right.”
New House is Rojas’ favorite piece in the series; a straightforward, yet elegantly composed oil painting that inexplicably stands out from the others in its effective simplicity.
Another piece, Alligator conveys the difficulty she felt in creating it, an unwieldy emotion she describes as being “like an alligator.” The tumultuous painting, marked by its use of primary colors and sharp edges, is infused with anxiety and dread.
Previously Rojas created folk paintings that were influenced by her activism in women’s rights. Then her work was figurative, reflective of social struggles, which Rojas eventually felt “weighed down” by. Rojas chose to move toward abstracted works that felt more freeing.
The final room on the top floor is unusual in its simplicity. Here several of Rojas’s drawings and three poems are displayed. The space is a sort of “Zen room” for the artist, who placed a plant and small candles alongside her work. In addition to being a painter and a musician, Rojas is also a poet and writer.
Rojas is based in San Francisco and exhibits at the Paule Anglim gallery in San Francisco.
“Clare Rojas” will be on view at the Vladimir Restoin Roitfield through December 15.