Out of a dripping, impressionistic world, where we stand at the edges of accelerated transit, Thea Quiachon forges a nebulous, gray zone. Everywhere we turn, form is imbued with movement: these frames—like movable ruins—endure as etched puzzle pieces, glinting with the flickering ambivalence of solitude, of a body circumscribed within a swarm of other bodies.
In thickly laid daubs of impasto, Quiachon’s latest series, This Means Nothing, sediment and surface an account of disappearance and the desire to be found, of lost faith and the effort to make sense of lostness. This Means Nothing features 60 pieces meant to be scattered and owned by different people, that impermanence part and parcel of the show’s ethos of rediscovery. Like an invisible thread tethering each one of us to the other, these wondrously crafted pieces miniaturize us. They remind us how, in our fleeting traversals between movement and stasis, we may come to a fuller, more authentic understanding of ourselves.
Here, the landscape is inevitably the self. But it is also those who surround us, pass us by. Peopled with itinerant subjects, Quiachon’s ambulatory paintings inscribe strangers—tinted in an intense yet calming azure blue—with a quiet dignity, leaving room for the mysteries and complexities which undergird our sense of self and community, as well as our everyday interactions. At the center of many of these works, too, is an absence shaped into another figure, ostensibly observing the fray, considering from her vantage what it means to participate in this human enterprise. Perhaps she is plotting her escape, looking for an out. Perhaps she is waiting for someone to reach her. Perhaps she is lonely.
With each and every attempt to draw closer to these enigmas, Quiachon contradicts the show’s very title: in a world where meaning is fraught and fugitive, there is eventually resistance and courage to be found at the fringes of meaning-making, at the peripheries of oneself, situated with and among others.
Text by Sean Carballo