8 September - 10 September, 2023
Booth: P28 
For the Armory Show 2023, Cob is proud to present a group of new paintings and sculpture by Los Angeles-based British artist Tahnee Lonsdale.

While radiating a powerful affective charge, Lonsdale’s compositions retain a fundamental core of unknowability: her swooping, supple figures resist any attempt to unambiguously decode them into human terms. In the group of images presented here, their flowing forms seem to be feminine, but their gender ultimately remains equivocal. The moments of communion they share could be part of some ritualistic rite or the most everyday conviviality, or both at once. The scenes might depict washing or bathing, but the translucent substance in which they float or hover could also be something altogether more obscure than water: some ethereal matter found at the deepest interior of the earth or the outermost celestial sphere. All that is certain is that we are observing an altogether different plane of being. 


Lonsdale traces the germ of these works back to a chance encounter with a Henry Moore sculpture in the Swiss mountains. Following her established practice, this led to an intuitive process of drawing during which, seance-like, forms began to emerge, their autonomy transcending any specific conscious intention on her part. In fact, as Lonsdale sees it, the act of painting involves making sense of what arises in the course of this process: an attempt to understand the figures and their configurations on their own terms, rather than translating them into conventional logic. The result shares the atmospherics of her earlier work, in which sculptural vigour shares space with a graphical flatness, and restricted colour palettes conjure precisely tuned emotional states. Yet it also marks a new phase, where vorticist motifs have modulated into a new lightness, floating away from impressions of power and hierarchy and into a calmer, more tender space.


Lonsdale’s introduction of a sculptural form to the centre of the booth quite literally adds a new dimension to the painted works. This fleecy recumbent figure is both muscular and soft. As in the painted compositions, our instinctual feeling of wanting to be enveloped by it, without being able to quite grasp its meaning, both stimulates and transcends human feeling. The use of a mirrored floor reproduces the ambiguous ether in which the figures stand, as well as drawing on the idea of the interior of a mirror as a space that confounds rational comprehension. It is also apt to the way that forms seem to echo between the imagery: the distinctive flower shapes suspended across it recur throughout the paintings, just as they do in Lonsdale’s wider body of work. The completeness of vision to which these elements contribute bespeaks the artist’s mastery of a distinct and enigmatic visual language, both inexplicable and irrefusable.

August 1, 2023