Studio Check: Julia Dault
Modern Painters, October 2014
“I’m strongly opposed to abstraction always needing to be this rationalistic, spiritual, and philosophical thing,” says Dault. “Why can’t we acknowledge that it’s influenced by pop culture, too?” R & B inspires the titles of her work and her shows. “Rhythm Nation 2014” at China Art Objects this spring paid homage to a Janet Jackson record, while “Color Me Badd,” her survey on view through January 4, 2015, at Toronto’s Power Plant, shares its name with a boy band remembered for its one-off 1991 hit “I Wanna Sex You Up.” For the Canadian-born
artist, the most generative years are those of her adolescence, the late 1980s and early ’90s. In her spacious Industry City studio in Brooklyn, that era’s Day-Glo hues and whimsical patterns infuse her layered canvases and palette.
For all of Dault’s casual references to fashion and music, the artist maintains a rigorous, rule-based approach when creating paintings and sculptures. She limits herself to a strict palette, and uses tools in her paintings to reveal layers or underpainting, creating “a kind of logic or consistent pattern, but it’s always uneven or it breaks down.” She adds, “I’m a person who is making—it’s not some kind of fabrication or off-site production.” Her sculptures are equally constrained. For these works, the artist wrestles multiple sheets of materials like Plexiglas and binds them to the gallery walls, titling them with the date and time of their creation.
“The way I work is a what-if scenario,” Dault says. “You have a tool and you have a substrate or surface. What are the infinite variations within those two poles?” It’s clear that there’s prolific potential, and that Dault is in demand. With her Power Plant show traveling to the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, and a solo show in February 2015 at New York’s Marianne Boesky, she’s way past one-hit-wonder status.