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David Kordansky Gallery
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Mary Weatherford at David Kordansky Gallery


For about a decade, Mary Weatherford has been integrating neon with abstract paintings, adhering neon tubes directly onto the surfaces her painted canvases. Her new show Mountains Mud Prisms Air utilizes neon in some works and totally abandons it in others, allowing its inclusion to feel intentional and compositional. In the exhibition’s largest works — neither of which contain neon and which span 24 feet — paint dances across the canvas in pools, spills, and swirls of exuberant color. 

The works are inspired by Weatherford’s recent trips to Hawaii, and a sun dappled, tropical air can be felt in pieces like Light Falling Like a Broken Chain; Paradise, in which paint scraped away in large swirls towards the canvas’ top edge suggests the light peeking through a lush landscape. 

But these works are not meant to be read literally. Rather, they emote a soft and tender quality, stirring up emotional resonances. The Birds of Kīlauea Point, with its blue neon stripe running down the painting’s center, feels peaceful amidst its chirping energy and shocks of blue against a more neutral palette. In a modest 15” x 19” work titled Warm Weather, a pool of honey orange glides across the painting, which is segmented by an orange neon tube. Unlike Weatherford’s  other works, in which the neons jut out dramatically past the canvas edge, this one is cropped — somewhat awkwardly — to the dimensions of the canvas itself, giving it a compressed and dense tension, like the inability to escape the sun’s buzz on a sweltering afternoon.

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Photo: Mary Weatherford, Light Falling Like a Broken Chain; Paradise (2021). Flashe on linen, 133 x 288 x 1.5 in. Image courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.