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Laura Limbourg: ACE

Mar 23 - Apr 20, 2024

Laura Limbourg's studio in Prague, 2024

Shin Haus is pleased to announce ACE, an exhibition of paintings by Laura Limbourg at the gallery’s 68 Orchard Street Location.

At the core of Limbourg’s work, with its autobiographical bent, gestural brushwork, and aqueous texture, is dialogue: what does the relational quality innate to the dialectic imply? Here, her route of investigation penetrates deeply into her own interiority, and aptly so.

She begins with tennis. Born in 1996 in Belgium, Limbourg’s childhood was disrupted by her family’s relocation to the Czech Republic. Alienated from the community before her, her struggle to settle led her to find solace in the unspoken communication between players in a tennis match. With every swing and every serve, the tennis player responds to the gestures of their opponent. Each becomes reflected and modified in their opponent’s next move, for without it, the game could not be played. In this exchange, the sport betrays a contradiction central to this body of work: much like the work of an artist, the marked individualism of tennis ultimately relies on direct engagement with another. Thus, to play tennis or to be an artist is to have a kind of intimate and evolving conversation.

Limbourg goes a step further to say that this dialogue demonstrates not only the reflexive influences of the social relationship between conversants, but the constructions of their very identities as well. With these influences, the facets of one's self grow like a kaleidoscope of ephemera, with interactions, objects, and any moment of significance as the pieces of colored glass. To capture these shifting constellations, Limbourg blends her fantasies with real world experiences through a series of portraits. Her friends, who enrich her artistry through conversation, are turned into tennis players, wielding rackets and dancing over a checkerboard for a court. From the court’s edge, palms and cacti grow a backdrop against which the players strike their ball. Their feet inch closer to a mixed drink which rests precariously on the floor. Scantily clad, they dress in bikini tops, and pleated mini skirts, and socks but no shoes. They pose coyly while tennis balls fly through the air, or step haphazardly over messes of them. Present in all of these paintings is her highly idiosyncratic narrative arrangements, spoken through a distinct and intimate visual language. Converging through time and geographies, her awareness as an individual and an artist emerges; the intimate relationships she forms with her peers are rendered as just as much a reflection of her interiority as they are of their own.

Working with diluted acrylic, her portraits evoke a more figurative Helen Frankenthaler, combined with the ambiguous, subconscious probings of René Magritte. Together, the transparency of her paint, and the soft edges of her forms evoke the ephemerality which give shape to our relationships. Within these permeable boundaries an energy stirs. At every corner and in every shade, she takes Leonora Carrrington’s meditations on identity in an ever-changing landscape one step further, turning the question of social relationships into a kind of relational echo of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Each of these paintings in both form and concept align the tension and intrigue of a tennis match with a heightened conversation– active, intimate, and responsive. Each volley is a product of all those previous. Likewise, the conversation inspired by Limbourg’s provocative and ambiguous imagery is more than simply a vacuous reply. It is the realization of a legacy of interactions: behind each expression is not just Limbourg’s brushwork, but the people that precede it.