Laura Owens



Inkjet print and Flashe vinyl paint on Gampi paper

41,6 × 49,5 cm

Edition of 100 copies, numbered and signed by the artist on the recto side

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This edition is published by Texte Zur Kunst

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about this work

There is hardly an artistic technique that reads as materially concrete and palpable as ceramics. Necessarily registering the traces of the artist’s hands that were involved in its shaping, the ceramic object appeals to the haptic sense. If Laura Owens, for this edition, hence decides to recreate a set of twelve emojis using this technique, the effect is both ironic and intriguing.

These pictorial symbols have come to encode, most succinctly, a basic set of emotions and are used for digital communication, whether via texting or social media, where they circulate weightlessly as funny little standardized replacements for the human face; substitutions for the materially absent interlocutor. Remodeled as a set of irregularly shaped white globes that stand out in front of a wooden background, they now lurk in real space like a collection of animal specimens. This arrangement is photographed and then digitally manipulated to create, for example, the blue tear, and the black pupils of the emojis’ eyes.

Further, Owens has added a set of three residually expressive yellow strokes executed in vinyl polymer. The result is a work that is at once intricate and entertaining: Firmly rejecting any easy conceptualization of “post-net” art, it bounces back and forth between analogue and digital, drawing its qualities from this ongoing traffic between the domain of objects and the realm of information.

about Laura Owens

Commingling a variety of art-historical techniques and tropes, Laura Owens’ work questions expected modes of composition and representation, and her paintings typically comprise several complex, additive layers in a more-than-meets-the-eye pastiche.

Drawing on Chinese and Japanese landscape painting, craft embroidery, and modernist masters, among other sources, Owens’s early work often features fantastical animals in highly illustrated settings. These canvases, often blending abstraction, figuration, and decoration, are reminiscent of the work of Henri Rousseau and brim with possibility in their dreamlike experimentation. Owens meditates on the ambiguity of representation and frequently depicts the gallery space itself in an almost uncanny state. This investigation into how her art is ultimately viewed and consumed remains an important proposition in her work.

Since the late 2000s, Owens has largely left behind figurative elements in favor of a bold, buoyant, abstract gestural mark, often layered on newspaper clippings, posters, or grids. Built through Photoshop, then painted by hand to emulate a digital aesthetic, these multilayered compositions create a puzzling, intricate trompe l’oeil, wherein different techniques become indistinguishable. The creative reimagining of the traditional brushstroke in a digital age is a hallmark of Owens’s work, which attests to the persistent power of the painted surface.

(courtesy of Guggenheim, New York)

Laura Owens had solo exhibitions at a.o. CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Secession, Vienna; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht; Kunsthalle, Zurich; and Camden Arts Centre, London; MoCA, Los Angeles; and Aspen Art Museum, Aspen. Group exhibitions include Le Consortium, Dijon; Museum Brandhorst, Munich; Tate Modern, London; MoMA, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle; Rubell Collection, Miami; Francois Pinault Collection, Venice; MCA, Chicago; and MoCA, Los Angeles.

Laura Owens is represented by the following galleries;
click through to discover more of her work.

Sadie Coles, London

Capitain Petzel, Berlin

Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

You can also discover more of Laura Owens’ work on her own website.


Other works by Laura Owens

Laura Owens - Untitled, 2022

Laura Owens



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