Fresh From the Whitney Biennial, Painter Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s New Show Reveals a Tumultuous and Divided America

The artist celebrates her first solo exhibition in New York at Marlborough Contemporary.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer's To Be Titled (2017). Courtesy of the artist.
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer's To Be Titled (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

In Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s first solo show in New York, “Wild and Blue,” don’t expect a respite from polarizing conversations around class, gender, and race. The paintings, now on view at Marlborough Contemporary, are densely populated tableaux that are painstakingly detailed, attributing personalities to a host of characters: demons, cops, cats, lovers, friends, and foes. But just as much as she shows a commitment to specificity, her paintings often edge toward the symbolic.

The show features canvases so timely it is a wonder the paint has dried. In Durham, August 14, 2017, a toppled statue of a Confederate soldier, crumpled on its plinth, exactly mirrors a photograph taken in North Carolina when protesters pulled down a monument just days after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Much of Dupuy-Spencer’s new work is inspired by time spent with family and friends in New Orleans and upstate New York. The locales provided her with the subject matter with which to imagine or re-imagine their particular geographies. For example, the painting Cajun Navy (2017) shows a handful of people in a small boat, drifting down a flooded road, passing sunken cars and fallen trees. Images like this, ubiquitous after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Big Easy in 2005, now circulate again in the wake of record-breaking storms in Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean.

Dupuy-Spencer is one of a cohort of contemporary painters mining the headlines. She deals compellingly with subjects of collective trauma and identity politics.

See more examples of Dupuy-Spencer’s weighty paintings below:

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Durham, August 14, 2017 (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Durham, August 14, 2017 (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, <i>To Be Titled</i> (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, To Be Titled (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, <i>Ponchartrain</i> (2016). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Ponchartrain (2016). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer's George Jones Greeting the Newest Members of Heaven's Band (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s George Jones Greeting the Newest Members of Heaven’s Band (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer's The River (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s The River (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Ralph Di Meo (2016). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Ralph Di Meo (2016). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I’m a Liberal (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I’m a Liberal (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer's <i>Rokeby</i> (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s Rokeby (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer's <i>Sarah</i> (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary NY.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s Sarah (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary NY.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Cajun Navy (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Cajun Navy (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary New York.

 

“Celeste Dupuy-Spencer: Wild and Blue” is on view at Marlborough Contemporary, New York, Septemer 7–October 7, 2017. 


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share