Et al. is pleased to present Pheadra Bathes in Fabuloso, a solo exhibition by Justine Rivas, on view at VACATION in New York City, from April 7 - April 28, 2018. The opening reception will also be a release party for Rivas' recent collection of poems, Lucky Star, published by Stemms.
Q: How did the title, Pheadra Bathes in Fabuloso, come to be?
A: Phaedra's a character in Greek mythology. She falls in love with her step-son, it's an unrequited love. There are a few different versions of the story... in one version, Hippolytus is cursed and dragged to death by horses. In another, Phaedra commits suicide out of guilt. A greek tragedy.
But to be honest, I first heard the name Phaedra in undergrad. There was this girl in my class. She seemed a bit tough. She wore Dickies and thick eyeliner. You know when you're just curious about a stranger for no reason? It was that sort of thing.
As far as Fabuloso goes.. the smell reminds me of bars in the Tenderloin. I think bars use this cleaner for some reason. Maybe because it's inexpensive. "Phaedra bathes in Fabuloso" I like the way it sounds. In poetry the sound is sometimes more important than the meaning of the word. It's a way of abstracting language. My favorite poets do this.
Even though I've had many jobs where I would have prob benefitted from using Fabuloso, it's the first I've heard of it.
It has a very distinct smell. Kind of chemical, kind of floral.
Is there a place that your paintings are rooted? There is a lot of nature and landscape in the work, it is fantasy or is it tied to a specific spot?
I'm not thinking of a specific place. I'm more interested in shapes and what they can represent. There's a reoccurring tree in some of these paintings. Three branches with little tuffs. I love this shape because it could also be a flower. There's this lot by my house with a sign that used to read "NO PARKING"- it's now been sprayed over with black spray paint in a way that look like a simple tree. I totally copied it.
When we talked before, you had mentioned a new layering that's happening in these paintings...
Lately I've been using white paint straight from the tube. Traditionally, if you're going to use white, you usually want to warm it up or give it some depth. I was painting over parts I wasn't happy with, so I didn't bother making it a nice shade.
Eventually it began to grow on me and I started using this in a more intentional way. It's a bit cold and grey.
My older paintings give the impression that I just gave one go at them. They were bright, quick, effortless paintings. The paintings in this show, especially the bigger ones, have been all sorts of different paintings. Some of them I've been working on for a year, which is really different for me. These paintings seem a little more slow, a little more tired.
How does mythology and tragedy play out in the exhibition?
let me think about that one for a second..
well to be quite literal, I bought a book of Greek mythology at a Half Price Books in Dallas. My grandparents live in Dallas and this is one of our spots...but yeah I picked up this book. I was probably looking for a story that would inspire a painting.
There are a few figurative pieces in this show. The characters in the paintings have a story, have a name. I think a narrative makes for a more interesting painting.
As far as tragedy goes...absolutely. A painting in this show is titled “Bonnard's Lover.” It's inspired by a Bonnard show I saw a few years ago where most of the paintings were of his wife, Marthe, and his mistress.
Bonnard chooses to marry Marthe, and shortly after, the mistress commits suicide. Following the suicide, Bonnard makes some really lovely 'bathtub' paintings. So I guess, yes, I am interested in tragedy ha ha
am I giving it all away?
Justine Rivas (b. 1991, Phoenix, Arizona) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2014. Rivas' practice focuses largely on oil painting incorporating the sentimental through the figurative. Typically personal in content, Rivas paints from routine moments involving movement and space often times centered on the domestic or the ephemeral as it relates to memory. Solo exhibitions include Memory Foam at Alter Space (San Francisco). Select group exhibitions include Mission Comics, Guerrero Gallery, Book and Job, and Ladybug House, all in San Francisco, CA.