Critics’ Picks

Los Angeles

Sarah McEneaney and Ann Toebbe

Zevitas Marcus
2754 S La Cienega Blvd
November 4–December 23, 2017

Family homes spread open their walls like flower petals greeting the sun. In several paintings by Ann Toebbe, domestic spaces are shown from above, with patterned floors and walls flattened on the same plane. What lies inside is not some form of suburban dysfunction, though. No one dishes the dirt; in fact, no one appears at all. In one scene of a living room, Family Room (Artist), 2017, stock art covers the walls, toys clutter the floor, and Good Eats plays on the television. Despite their familiar appearance, the objects in these interiors reveal little about their owners.

In contrast, Sarah McEneaney’s paintings show a distinctly singular life through her home. The artist depicts herself (a chic and mature woman) in each image, and the perspective is always raised, as if one were looking through a picture window. In Office Work, 2015, McEneaney is seated in her home office, looking at a picture of a dog on her laptop. Behind her, pets stand idly or rest. The animal motif seems innocent enough, until one notices that behind her are shelves of abstract, feline-like corpses—a rare, surreal element among her works on view here.

Both artists consider objects of domesticity—everyday items can be so generic that they say little, or they are loaded with personal associations, which remain opaque to outsiders. What is the sweet spot? This conundrum is exemplified in McEneaney’s culminating work, Studio Spring Summer 2017, which shows her workspace with three other paintings that appear in this very show, hung on the studio’s wall. At first glance, these works look like decoration, but their significance is evident within the artist’s own space.