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OPTICAL DRIVE

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2012, oil, acrylic, Flashe paint, resin, collage, and pumice on canvas, 108 x 84 x 1 5/8".

“THE EIGHTIES CALLED, They Want Their Painting Back”: This was one of LAURA OWENS’s nicknames for a recent work, whose acid neons and dragged filigrees certainly suggest a gleeful bout with MacPaint circa 1984. But then again, the ’80s never looked quite like this. Over the past several years, Owens has been making pictures that extend her signature exploration of style and decor, but that appear more like layers of windows or screens—and have been executed at a newly expansive scale. They combine illusion and blankness, texts and rocks, depth and dead ends. Indeed, one seldom sees such a battery of techniques normally found in representational art— photorealistic relief, modeling, figures and grounds, contour, sfumato—in pictures that are undeniably abstract. Critic SARAH LEHRER-GRAIWER met with the artist at her new studio, exhibition, and performance space in

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