At once both foreboding and enchanting, the latest installation by Erika Lizée beckons the viewer like a mysterious, alluring phantasm. Silvery turquoise tendrils, with highlights that appear to stretch their painted, enlarged fibers, appear as if they are being viewed through a giant microscope. Grey swirls of paint are expertly blended upon the white walls of the gallery, erasing the subtle seams that exist – nearly imperceptibly – along Lizée’s flawlessly applied Dura-Lar paintings.
Lizée has created paintings, which convey the illusion of a visual spell – a spell from the fiery fingers of an invisible witch, or, just as likely, a spell that has leapt off the wand of a fairy godmother. The intent of this surreal body of work is open to the interpretation of its curious viewers as they ask themselves: can this smoky illusion, which calls to them like the music of the Sirens from Greek mythology, be trusted?
Photography by Kristine Shomaker
Erika Lizée chose to set up “…and yet, things continue to unfold” without assistance, clocking it in at an incredible thirty-seven hour installation time. Yet she states that this process, in which she used countless lengths of clear filament, artist’s tape, and clear pushpins, was indeed a labor of love. Although a labor that succeeds at delivering a surreal, stunning trompe l’oeil experience.
Erika writes in her Artist Statement, “In my installations, I utilize illusionistic painting where surfaces of the gallery walls become real and metaphorical dividing lines between the realms of things that do not physically exist, and those that do. Mysterious and abstract elements appear beyond the surface of the wall, while others emerge from this space into the physical realm of the viewer.” Her paintings ignore the confines of the gallery walls, and literally come out to meet you in this world – like chilly fragrances wafting from one room into the next. The painted grey accents radiate like lashes along eye-shaped ocular orifices, and grow like stretched appendages from massively maximized mitochondria. Sinews in the paintings stretch and pull like glowing, alien taffy, while hybrid floral butterflies burst forth in a captured migration, gradually morphing from lavender to grey as they traverse the ceiling and disappear, into a dendritic bramble of smoky, expertly blended paint.
To plan an installation is to embark on a brave and highly creative journey. Not only must an artist produce the artwork, but she must also take command of a space and its potential, taking into account its structural parameters, including its lighting, its doorways, and how they might best enhance and display her overall creative vision. Lizée has mastered all of the steps within this process – the producing, planning, and placement of her installations – and the resulting transformative effect on her viewers is stunning. First, viewers are caught off guard by the novelty of the work before they begin to investigate like wide-eyed scientists, riding the waves of their own unique perception. It is within this work that viewers are best experiencing the phrase made famous by Gestalt psychologists, “the whole is other than the sum of its parts.”
With “…and yet, things continue to unfold,” Lizée has installed a unique and incredibly ambitious body of work, which is scheduled to be installed next (this year) at Los Angeles International Airport where it will invite countless more viewers to questions the honesty of their perception and the reliability of their senses.
Erika Lizée is a visionary who succeeds at giving her viewers the gift of transport into an intriguing, boundless, beautiful moment in another realm. And what a delightful gift it is, this one-of-a-kind glimpse into a world that we first see, become curious about, then, with wide, twinkling eyes, tentatively explore.
Erika Lizée (right) with online author Jennifer Susan Jones