Ida Badal: Gray Area

SMART OBJECTS is delighted to present Gray Area, a solo exhibition of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Ida Badal.

11.3 – 12.17 

Biding Time, Oil on canvas, 42 x 66 in, 2023

Savor Bench, Birch, Walnut, Plywood, Water-based paint, 60 x 16 x 18 in, 2023

Aflame, Oil on canvas, 24 x 72 in, 2023

Fixated, Oil on canvas, 48 x 72 in, 2023

Plotting, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in, 2023

Unfazed, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in, 2023

Limbic, Oil on canvas, 36 x 60 in, 2023

Muscle Memory, Oil on canvas, 36 x 60 in, 2023

Facet Bench, Birch, Plywood, Water-based paint, Acrylic, 60 x 16 x 18 in, 2023

Reflect Bench, Birch, Plywood, Water-based paint, Acrylic, 90 x 16 x 18 in, 2023

Into Dust, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in, 2023

Floater, Oil on canvas, 48 x 72 in, 2023

Unending, Oil on canvas 36 x 48 in 2023

Scaled Sequence, Oil on canvas, 42 x 66 in ,2023

Dizzy, Oil on canvas, 42 x 66 in, 2023

Ambivalent Field, Oil on canvas, 42 x 66 in, 2023

In 1959, when speaking on his now infamous target paintings, Jasper Johns told Time magazine that these, his flags, and, generally, readymade abstractions existing within the day-to-day were “things the mind already knows.” Ida Badal paints subject matter that the mind mostly knows but has met under less lucid circumstances. The recognition that Badal accesses resides much deeper and more so on the fringes of the psyche—in the depths of the subconscious within dreams of flying and that blurry state between wake and sleep, among other pleasant disorientations. One knows that they are viewing elements of the natural world in Gray Area, but the visuals represented within these works are so pervasive or encountered in moments so fleeting that, when distilled here, they become something akin to the uncanny twinkling of light in a distant memory.

Badal’s imagery begins with the language of topographical patterns that she will splice and overlay beyond recognition. In this way, she’s painting the readymade signifiers of a map, the pastoral scenery of a landscape, and the subliminal channelings of an abstraction in the same way that I am, at this moment, composing this press release in California, in Los Angeles, and in my kitchen. Her works are a nesting doll of various styles. In an early discussion about this exhibition, Badal tells me that a consideration of her work which overly adheres to painting’s previous genre exactitudes would miss the mark—all styles and medium specificities that have come before us are now resources to be remixed and challenged.

Keenly aware of its precursors, this work lives in a dissonant space, refusing classification through the formation of harmonious cacophonies. For instance, Badal’s paintings behave like sculptures. The artist’s swatches of flat color jolt the eye, calling attention to each wall-mounted canvas’s objecthood by comparison to traditional painting’s gradual gridded depths and horizon lines. Her sculptures, the benches within Gray Area that gallery visitors are invited to sit on, perform for their viewers like paintings do. These objects explore texture, reflection, light, and color more so than the form they take within dimensional space or even, arguably, their own Platonic function.

Thus, Gray Area’s title is apropos, but it moves beyond the arbitrary, coded modes of thought that humanity so often relies on as a way of making sense of an otherwise chaotic existence. This exhibition skews the disciplinary dividers of the past without giving them much nod—perfectly irreverent in its formal acknowledgments. Transporting the viewer, the psychological space that Badal creates requires none of the usual labored considerations—she builds worlds that directly reference the easily overlooked cache of signs present in some of our most simple moments with nature.

– Christie Hayden

Ida Badal (b. 1989, White Plains, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She received her BFA from The Cooper Union in New York in 2013. Recent exhibitions include In Lieu, BozoMag, One Trick Pony, 12.26 West, Los Angeles, CA; Europa, Fisher Parrish Gallery; and Rockaway Artist Alliance in New York. She was an Artist-in Residence at the A-Z West Encampment in Joshua Tree, CA.