Born to Love, a solo exhibition by Alexandra Grant. The title for the show stems from Sophocles’ play Antigone. In the ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone is brought before King Creon for disobeying his mandate against mourning the death of her brother, Polynices, who the King has labeled a traitor to the state. “An enemy is an enemy, even dead,” Creon says, to which Antigone replies, “I was born to love not to hate.” A blend of abstraction and text, Born to Love stands as an exploration of that radical stance—a stance that goes beyond its personal agenda to take on much greater social and universal implications.
The show will feature large-scale works on paper from the Los Angeles-based artist’s Antigone 3000 series. These works simultaneously contrast and incorporate various forms of abstraction––geometric, gestural, color-field––with sepulchral wax rubbings of text. Through Grant’s painterly nods to abstraction, the works achieve their harmony by juxtaposing visual language with textual quotation, repeating the phrase “I was born to love not to hate” throughout the works. Born to Love is a visual proposition that Antigone, in choosing love over hate, rises above all opposition with her steadfast conviction.
In creating each painting, Grant worked both on horizontal and vertical planes, ultimately giving both a feeling of mass and lightness to her forms. On the floor, she poured paint that both pooled and splattered, evidence of a natural, even violent series of events. The rubbings of Antigone’s voice also happened on the horizontal—echoes that refuse to be silenced. Moving the paper to the wall, Grant inserted rigid bands of color that drip down and compete with the pours and splatters of paint for dominance. The visual antagonism is palpable; each painting contains a battlefield of abstraction.
Known for her use of text, and collaborations with writers and scholars, recently Grant’s works have grown more entropic, dense, and self-reliant. “I was born to love, not to hate” appears throughout these paintings, doubled over so that it can be read both right-to-left and left-to-right. The words bring harmony and take on a timeless quality, transcending the frenetic formal conflict taking place all around them. Instead of being restrained by one ideology or another, the textual element seems––radically, heroically––to step back and look at the larger picture, to bear witness to the full spectrum of ideological opposition.