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Rema Hort Mann Foundation

Leeza Meksin

My paintings and installations explore the uncomfortable in-between states between painting and sculpture, male and female, queer and straight, dressed and naked, traditional and unfixed. Relating to the body, they have curves, limbs, guts, and appendages. Like furniture, buildings and interiors, they refer back to where the body sits, walks, and lives. The bodies evoked in my work are awkward; they refuse to be classified within conventional gender norms.
My paintings and site-specific installations examine the behavior and signifying
potential of a queered experience of architecture, art history and public space.
Working between paintings and large-scale fabric installations, my process allows me to navigate two opposing states. One entails solitary time in the studio, and the other brings me in contact with specific sites and its people, ushering in a host of rules, schedules, challenges, and collaborations. Together, the work explores the public and private body through the use of fabric as it relates to clothing and skin. Fabric, like many materials, tends to have an implied gender based on social conventions, especially when it comes to clothing.
Spandex in particular has a dynamic gender-life. Through its use in athletics,
dance, and fashion, it simultaneously elicits the feminine and masculine, the
queer and burlesque, the glamorous and gaudy. Combining spandex and other
fabrics with high visibility construction fencing, upholstery tacks and zip ties, I
actively integrate these materials along with more traditional painterly materials
like linen and oil paint, complicating their gendered reality.
The vivid prints, colors, and textures in the fabrics I use work in opposition to a rigid structure, whether it is the stretcher of a painting or the exterior of a building. I wrap, overlap, and stretch the fabric, and drag the paintbrush in response to the colors and prints. Upholstered and gutted, the expressive exists just as much in the containment as it does within its ruptures. Activating these rigid structures with layers of highly haptic materials and painterly actions such as dyeing, glazing, spraying and scumbling, exposes the vulnerabilities of these opposing forces.