V1 Gallery is pleased to present

Alicia McCarthy

OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, APRIL 22. 2022. TIME: 16.00 - 21.00


Radiant color weaves, laborious patterns, intuitive and organic rainbows bloom in Alicia McCarthy’s intricate and elegantly raw compositions. On the surface deceivingly simple, McCarthy’s works always contain multitudes. The compositions seem to exist free of, but in relation to, the surfaces they are created upon, whether that be a three-story brick wall, a piece of found plywood, an old tabletop, or a small piece of paper. Marks and gestures are made with care and precision but also with the nonchalance of experience. Colors intertwine in complex, DNA-like helices that rise from the surface in a seemingly three-dimensional dance; an electric and dynamic choreography that generates space for improvisation. Intimacy and boldness are not counterparts but rather interlocked and codependent factors in the works. In this sense the work seems to both embody, manifest, and celebrate the complexities of existence. The works have a meditative quality, visual mantras open for multiple viewings, in which you may get lost or found.

McCarthy is drawn to the discarded. Digesting the city’s landscape, ambiguous everyday items sheared from their original intent are reappropriated into intimate art objects. Abandoned wood is scouted and salvaged and can be in transit in McCarthy’s studio for years before it becomes the foundation for new compositions. McCarthy applies house paint, colored pencil, liquid graphite, and spray paint transforming recycled materials into art objects with a folk, DIY and punk aesthetic. Most of the new works combine various abstract gestures, while maintaining a very physical presence. They are subtle, radiant, complex and have an immediate energy.

Alicia McCarthy is one of the core figures of what is now known as the Mission School together with Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Ruby Neri and Chris Johansson. Named after San Franciscoʼs Mission District where the artists lived and worked in the 1990s, when it still was a pre-gentrified low-rent neighborhood. The group came together around independent music, skateboarding, graffiti, community driven projects, queer politics and zine publishing. They favored found materials to paint and draw on and turning them into sculptures and installations. Influenced by their diverse urban surroundings, the natural beauty that encapsulates San Francisco and their mutual interests, they started making art that carried a myriad of sentiments, simultaneously upbeat and downbeat, abstract and figurative, harsh, humorously tender, repetitive, rooted in tradition and avant-garde.

The group never worked as a collective and never sought out a collective identity, but their aesthetics and attitude gained popularity in San Francisco and spread, influencing and inspiring creators around the world. The group became part of the seminal traveling exhibition Beautiful Losers (curated by Aaron Rose and Christian Strike), now also a documentary of the same title.

Alicia McCarthy, born 1969, lives and works in Oakland, US. McCarthy received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 1994, and an MFA from the University of California at Berkeley in 2005. McCarthy has exhibited across America and internationally. Recent major exhibitions include Jack Hanley, New York, US (2021); Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, US (2020); Alice Gallery, Brussels, Belgium (2019); Wexner Center for the Arts, OH, US, (2019); The Berkeley Art Museum, CA, US (2018) and SFMoMa, SF, US (2017). Her works have been permanently acquired by MIMA the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art in Brussels, American Academy of Arts & Letters in New York City, Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, CA and Oakland Museum of California. McCarthy has taken part in several group exhibitions at V1 Gallery, this is her third solo exhibition with the gallery. A new catalogue will be available on the occasion of the exhibition.