Lilli Carré’s Debut Show at the MCA
Presenting artifacts from a surreal and chimerical world, Chicago-based artist (and SAIC alumna) Lilli Carré debuts her first solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago. The show, BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Lilli Carré is made up of ceramic sculptures, experimental animations, and framed works on paper. Carré, known for her comics and animations, is an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes printmaking, artists’ books, painting and sculpture. Featured in The New Yorker, The Best American Comics, The New York Times and This American Life, Carré’s work can best be described as illustrational.
With an emphasis on line, neutral colors, and amebic-like form, Carré’s work is simplistic in design but complex in nature. Throughout the exhibition is a theme of pairs. The illustrations are shown in twosomes on the wall and for every sculpture there is a corresponding ceramic piece, like walking through a thrift store of broken china. The molded couples look like severed limbs from porcelain dolls. They are smooth, not jagged, as if the earth has worn them down over time.
Conversations Held in Poses (2013) are small, fossil-like fragments of speech. Delicate and eerie, each ceramic piece is in conversation with another. One can almost hear them whispering in the quiet museum space. They feel transitory, as if they could disappear at any moment.
The sculptures are enchanting and amusing. One combination offers two skeletal-white hands gripping a pedestal as if clenching onto space and time. The anatomical representation of Carré’s art is reminiscent of a perennial graveyard of thought, presence, and abstraction.
The illustrations Before and After They Heard (2013) and It Started With the Santa Anas (2013) are faint and ethereal. The former is an image of stillness while the latter is the same illustration but slightly bent, like a gentle wind blew the figures out of place. As one’s eyes move from the one picture to the next, it’s clear that each is a gesture to the other, resembling a polite bow or curtsey before a Victorian dance.
Carré’s sculptural and pictorial abstractions capture the essence of human form and explore the dialogue between the fleeting mortality we all face in life. Her work is humorous while at the same time melancholic. The video Untitled (2013) accompanying her work is like a series of illustrative-object thumbprints, a narrative of textured ink on paper. Set up as a dual projection — yet another coupled work — the video installation shows the relationship between figural and abstract images.
The body of work is about the invariable communication between whimsy and deterioration. Carré presents an organic and abstract representation of the presence of human thought and form.
BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Lilli Carré, is her latest composition, but Carré continues to work in film, graphic design and illustrations. The MCA exhibition is on view till April 15, 2014.