The Laura Owens EffectFrom satin cases poured in rich profusion.One might look at the large canvases of Laura Owens and think she’s really blowing it up. The truth is quite the opposite. She’s actually condensing it down. Owens is taking what should be 3 or maybe even 4 or 5 dimensional landscapes and compressing them into just 2—alright, 2 ¼.
In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfume
And so naturally, she needs a canvas large enough to carry out this transformation. It’s not a ploy or gimmick, and I assure you it’s not ego. Laura Owens probably has less of an ego than the average art critic—make that all art critics. It’s quite simple. You can’t squeeze an entire tube of paint onto a tiny canvas. Well, not five tubes at least. And because she has squeezed a whole new world, with its own rules—every bit as abstract or as down to earth as you want—onto her canvas, her paintings allow my imagination to enter them and be in their unrealness. “The river sweats.” I am on that fuzzy foam, held up on the thick sea crest, the pushy pillows, and under the falling glitter. Gauguin forces me into the role of quiet philosopher. Van Gogh whips me into an out and out frenzy. Owens, her painting put me in a textured dream—of cobalt blue and Joan Miro—and of more Owens—to come, surely. Finally, there is something worth indulging in.