San Francisco

Andrea Higgins

Hosfelt Gallery

The intricately patterned surfaces of Andrea Higgins’s recent paintings were inspired by literary classics—Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt, for example, or Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, or The Confessions of Lady Nijo (a graceful memoir of court life in thirteenth-century Japan). Interpreting these authors’ exquisitely nuanced descriptions of clothing and household objects with the accuracy of a forensic anthropologist, Higgins creates the woven texture of fabrics (and, in some works, delicate details from china) on a vastly enlarged scale. The resulting optical abstractions—in which tiny segments of warp and weft, layer upon layer, are rendered with thousands of precisely shaped brushstrokes—function as portraits. And like any portrait of the powerful, they suggest the complexity and the constrictions of the codes and rituals associated with socioeconomic status and taste.

In an earlier

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