“It’s incredible how tiny a tree will search in the forest, and how insanely huge and deformed it appears in your residence,” Kaari Upson muses in her video Masquerade (2019). This sets the tone for a combination of operates at Sprüth Magers in Los Angeles—all responses to a dollhouse designed for the artist’s collaborator, Kris, by Kris’s mother—that comprise a poignant reflection on the fabrication of tales and objects and the vicissitudes of scale. In the video clip, Upson is garishly built up: trompe l’oeil open up eyes are painted on her closed lids, and she wears a black wig as she blindly describes a domestic setting populated with hats and hairpieces. In a further movie, Alex’s Residence (2019), Upson appears with Kris in related makeup the two dress in wigs to resemble the other. Together, they stumble by way of a sparse set, from time to time embracing, though Upson drags all-around her sculptures, which includes an enlarged cast edition of a miniature wrapped gift from the unique dollhouse. Some sculptures have spray-painted finishes that stain their cleanse white attire. The two close friends appear to enact an imaginary scene as the existence-measurement inhabitants of an if not vacant children’s dollhouse, managed by some unseen drive.
These two brief video clips, looped with a person other termed Clit Knowledge (2019), play on a observe on the reverse facet of a fireplace that Upson cast in urethane from the up to date hearth in Kris’s Las Vegas residence its negative room holds a pile of solid desk legs. The uncanny spillage of limb-like kinds recollects the sculpture of Robert Gober, although the duplicate of a childhood place conjures the work of Mike Kelley. Nearby sits a couch from the set in Alex’s House 3D-milled from wood, it was then layered with spray paint for a crimson patina. A paper edition of this identical sofa was at the time section of Kris’s dollhouse. Elsewhere in the gallery are a urethane solid of a plastic-wrapped Xmas tree and two bulky kinds resembling the casts of wrapped offers in the video clip, just one upright and the other on its aspect. These components all feel at residence in the illusion of the enlarged dollhouse fewer anticipated are the large 3D-printed clit rings sitting down on the couch and piercing the wrapped Christmas tree. The clit rings relate to a tale Kris tells in Clit Knowledge, when sitting down in a rocking chair, about obtaining a clit piercing that would have disgusted an ex. With or without the need of that clarification, Upson unsettles, combining the typical area of childhood fantasy with a darker, far more mysterious, and sexualized vision of domestic lifetime. The narratives in her films amount to a loose memoir, in which Upson and Kris mirror on encounters and selections that may possibly be their very own or invented for their characters, as a child could possibly for a doll. Upson’s voice is doubled in an eerie echo.
Apart from psychological disturbance, the artist achieves material intrigue as a result of the moiré patterning of her objects, resulting from her spray-portray and digital printing procedures. She also produces pressure by substituting 1 substance for a further: the couch appears to be like delicate but is tough, and the table legs ought to be rigid but appear relatively flaccid. Upson’s former get the job done with pillows and sectionals recognized a basis for this exploration in Aqua-New (2014–16), for illustration, she solid a utilised mattress, introducing colour to evoke stains. Meanwhile, the video clips boost discrepancies in scale, partly due to the fact they are nested in the fire fragment but also due to the fact they feature things of the installation itself as set parts. In other places in the exhibition are drawings and paintings that equally deal with scale and domesticity, this sort of as the artist’s big untitled graphite drawings the frivolously scrawled and intensely bolded phrases in individuals will work experiment with language as a advanced device for private expression: self seeding, enjoyment / preoccupation with waste, more than identification with incongruous fantasy. Taken as a complete, the exhibition—the to start with solo presentation of the artist’s get the job done in her home town given that her premature death past year—reinforces Upson’s significance as a potent and relocating storyteller.