Living and working in Los Angeles, Lauren received her MFA from Art Center College of Design in 2013
“To see is to want to touch. But the pleasure of seeing requires that this desire be contained.” - Jacqueline Lichtenstein
Lauren Fejarang’s work makes one encounter concrete as something one doesn’t quite recognize at first sight, an affect created by making them with paper casts. This is further compounded in some works by combining the concrete with an already fragile material—for example paper or lace—which shares some of its own fragility with it.
Like most sculpture hers causes one to see weight and weightlessness in the same place, the latter undermining the former, so that what one knows to be literally true is subverted by what one can’t help but feel, or see, to be going on. Its surface tempts one to want to touch it because perception is involuntary, and one wants to test the delicacy of the surface of what is obviously a solid, to see if the tactile confirms or qualifies the visual. Fejarang is an artist whose work’s vitality, as I said recently about Nancy Haynes’ paintings, brings to mind Giuseppe Longo’s description of biology as physics+chemistry+life. One wants to touch it because it has the implicit softness of skin, but if one were to touch it one would feel concrete, just as painted atmosphere is literally just dry paint.
As to art history, one may say that her work recalls the seventies but only by not being like it, bringing materials together where artists in that decade sought to keep them apart, and by suggesting or embodying animation where they concentrated on letting the literal defeat itself. Joel Shapiro making a work out of a piece of lead and one of magnesium of equal weight, the much smaller piece of lead levitating the much larger piece of magnesium, or Chris Wilmarth’s sculpture made out of iron and glass, both heavy but one transparent, the one malleable while the other is only ever used as a sheet. An example of a contemporary use of that decade’s approach, fashionably uninventive to the point of a pedantry that confirms but does not develop extant ideas, would be Flaka Haliti’s current show at the Kunsthaus Hamburg, geometric forms which recall early Robert Morris and hanging fabric which is intentionally similarly inert. As noted, Fejarang brings the thinness and fragility of paper impossibly close to the density and heaviness of concrete and when, as in Cut in Slow or I thought I knew who I was this morning, she adds paper or lace to the work it is so close to the paper cast concrete form as to elaborate the delicacy already there rather than seeming in any way foreign to it. In Weigh in drift, the fabric is gesturally active where in Haliti’s work it is wholly bound by gravity. One of the ways in which Fejarang’s work is exciting is that you haven’t seen what it does elsewhere recently, I think perhaps not since Brancusi, and he didn’t do it like this."
Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe is a painter, art critic, theorist, and educator. His work is in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Gallery of Art, Buffalo, NY; The Getty Study Center, Los Angeles; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation in Los Angeles and Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and other public, corporate and private collections.