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Katelyn Ledford at M+B


For her first solo show with M+B, Katelyn Ledford examines our shared constructed world made up of whirring, emotionally-charged images. Ledford’s still life paintings and deconstructed portraits are purposefully nonspecific, evoking universal and personal experiences alike. The artist employs trompe-l’œil, photorealism, and impasto in her works to play with the relationship between the artist and the viewer with humorous and absurdist results: Authenticity and artifice begin to blend together.

Welcome! (2023) reveals several of the signature tricks up Ledford’s sleeve. In it, a neon sign and a pair of palm trees beckon the viewer to what must be Los Angeles with the promising phrase “The World Is Yours.” On the left, a bubbled, glossy palm tree mimics a balloon. Meanwhile, its counterpart on the right feels less commercial and more painterly. The faux neon sign is not, in fact, made of neon but is hand painted, despite being surrounded by actual neon lights. Finally, the piece itself implements trompe-l’œil to create the illusion that it was painted on the backside of a canvas, with the effect of a stapled border and interlocking wood joints in view. They, like other aspects of the painting, are a simulation. Throughout the exhibition, Ledford challenges the viewer by pushing the boundaries of the traditional still life.

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Photo: Welcome!, 2023, courtesy of the gallery and the artist