In her striking portrayals of the tragicomic everyday, Grace Weaver examines the charged social and cultural conditions that underlie self-concept, intimacy, and individual experience. Depicting elastic-limbed, Mannerist figures that arrange themselves before mirrors and collide on street-corners with an unrelenting air of exuberance, her works contend with what she terms the “theater of public life.” In Weaver’s paintings, body becomes scenario: playful, sweeping lines and dense planes of luminous color act as linguistic elements, each directing its own physical weight and affect onto her female subjects.
In Weaver’s paintings, psychological narratives are suggested with an economy of expression—through the sideways tilt of a glance, the subtle curl of a lip, or the droopy slouch of a shoulder. Occupied with observations of self-conscious performativity and awkward aspirationalism, her work is grounded in an insistent empathy with her subjects. The protagonists in Weaver’s solitary female portraits are not necessarily drawn from life—rather, the artist considers them archetypes of feminine self-presentation. They are pictured in once-private spaces of preparation—the kitchen, the vanity mirror—that have become semi-public.
Looking toward influences that range from the torqued perspectives of American Regionalism to the gravity of Piero della Francesca’s paintings and the monumental figuration of Jose Clemente Orozco’s murals, within Weaver’s street scenes, the sidewalk serves as a stage upon which interpersonal dynamics and power struggles are played out. Alienation versus belonging, cruelty versus connection—the pains, pleasures, and anxieties of everyday existence are writ large in this collective space. Weaver playfully explores the contradictions embedded in this social fabric: who has power, who is powerless; who is revealed, and who is hidden from the gaze of the viewer. These scenes allow her to build an audience within the painting, creating a chorality within the picture plane. The cast of characters, like Weaver, are as much subject to performing a strata of social anxieties as they are to wryly observing them.
Grace Weaver (b. 1989, Vermont) received an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions in New York, NY; Burlington, VT; Berlin and Reutlingen in Germany, Glasgow, Scotland; and Chennai, India, and is featured in the collections of FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France; ARoS Museum, Aarhus, Denmark; and the Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH. In 2019, Weaver presented concurrent solo exhibitions at institutions in Germany: O.K., at Kunstpalais Erlangen and Little Sister at Oldenburger Kunstverein. The two museums have collaborated on the first monograph of the artist's work, published by Kerber Verlag. Weaver lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.