tonight lounge: Lorena Lohr
5 December 2019 - 18 January 2020 Gallery Exhibitions
“I suppose I am always looking at how symbols in typography, signage, and the arrangements on facades and interiors, come together as an abstract universal language. The emotional subject is much the same anywhere in the developed world, displayed through deliberate or accidental markers, repeated motifs appearing and reappearing through towns and the suburbs of cities. This reoccurring imagery speaks in both nuanced and generic terms, showing intimations of the exotic or the sadness of unfulfilled dreams, and is found in the traces that people leave behind in any room or street.”
- Lorena Lohr
Cob Gallery is proud to present Tonight Lounge, photographer Lorena Lohr’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition runs in conjunction with the launch of a Cob Gallery published monograph of Lohr’s works to date. The publication, of the same title, compiles her photographic documentation of her journey’s across America since 2010 in one volume for the first time.
The works in Tonight Lounge are the product of the artists most recent trip across the high desert and praries of midwest America, but those on display pay particular attentionto her extensive documentation of the city of Memphis. Tonight Lounge presents the artists continued fascination with symbology - be it in typography and signage arranged on buildings and wall facades; faded murals, and quiet, often overlooked decorative details of interiors. Moreover, Lohr’s Memphis vignettes, arranged as visual index of emblems, pay tribute to the enduring motifs associated with American and Rock'n’Roll mythology.
For Lohr, Memphis as her subject allowed her to explore a gamut of the Americana ‘cliche’ which she imbeds in her forensically observed close up still life photographs.These ‘hidden signs’ presented themselves to Lohr even in ‘obvious’ places - Graceland, Lounge Bars, Casinos, 50s themed naugahyde diners.
As such, many of the latest images move away from the palette of dusty and muted pastels which have typified Lohr’s aesthetic. Some works chart Lohr’s journey by train out from Memphis, to the stranded places in the high desert and the prairies through Nebraska, Colorado and Nevada. These photos were taken in somewhat colder climates to those before, indicated by the prevailing stormy tones of the landscapes and skyscapes captured by Lohr on a moving train through the ghost towns of the Midwest. However, what prevails in Tonight Lounge is Lohr’s celebration of a type of of Americana where the bold, the synthetic, the trashy collide - and as such the works revel in a ’wipe-clean’ surface quality, rich with primary colours and heady with textures of suede, plastic and leatherette.
The town of Memphis is a conduit to the peculiar stereotypes typical of American culture. Cowboy hats, showgirl signs and towering, God-like images of Elvis are deliberately isolated and cropped out of context by Lohr - allowing them to emerge as interchangeable symbols of perpetual gender stereotype as well as shared or conflicting desires,successes and failures. Here, Lohr’s images distill a universal language of human hope and fear through the lens of a visual language completely devoid of the physically represented human subject.
The book Tonight Lounge features essays by musician Kirk Lake, and editor Louise Benson.