September 16 – October 27, 2017
Roll Up Project is pleased to present Livia Stein’s Unexpected Pleasures, a selection of paintings and works on paper. Employing a diverse array of media including watercolor, charcoal, and oil paint, these drawings and paintings explore everyday life and the human experience. Stein’s work focuses in on intimate moments and memories, distilling universal truths from personal experiences. Some works are deceptively simple, drawing the eye to areas of light and color, while others are richly textured and detailed to create moody, dreamlike compositions.
In the main Roll Up Project window, Stein displays four paintings that she refers to as self portraits. The animals and figures are stand-ins for her, creating animated canvases with faces of all types. These self portraits are imbued with painterly brushwork, dynamic plays of color, and the personality of the subject. Warm pinks and reds spark against acidic greens and yellows, amplifying the subject’s bold gaze.
In a conversation with Richard Whittaker in 2007, Stein noted, “You’ll read novels about people who have all sorts of inner lives that no one even dreams exist. And yet, that’s the mystery of every human being…Everyone has their secrets, their thoughts and dreams and their disappointments. We only see the surface, even with people we’re close to. There are just moments when we glance that.” Perhaps these self portraits are a way for us to take a closer look at the artist, or to contemplate our own inner selves.
Around the corner in the Third Street windows, Stein has installed a series of paintings and drawings featuring abstract shapes, faces, animals, and plants on roughly cut pieces of paper. Taken as a whole, the installation resembles a scrapbook or a layered billboard – memories and notes from the past, pinned up and set aside for the future. The imagery distills the artist’s world and life experiences into dense fragments of information, each begging to be examined closely and in the greater context. As you move around the window display, you see loosely brushed watercolor portraits, charcoal renderings of abstract shapes that might be buds on branches, polkas dots and diamonds, layered scribbles, and more. Small lines of text appear in a few pieces, such as “Hanuman flies to top of Himalayas to get magic herbs.”
Stein’s openness to interpretation is a gift to the viewer. She allows her work to be a conduit for your thoughts. The ambiguity of her paintings and works on paper leave space for you to contemplate your inner world and how you connect with each piece of information she presents.
Livia Stein was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in Anaheim, California. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she pursued a master’s degree in South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her travels to India deeply influenced her art practice, and she has returned several times in recent years. Stein’s work has been exhibited in Europe, South America, India, and the United States. She is the recipient of an NDEA Fellowship, and has had residencies in Baroda, India, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Her work is included in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Oakland Museum of California, Dominican University, and the University of Iowa Art Museum, among others. Stein lives and works in Oakland.