Caitlin Lonegan: O Nobile Viridity

Various Small Fires is proud to present O Nobile Viridity by Los Angeles-based artist Caitlin Lonegan. Her first show with the gallery and on view in Dallas, the exhibition features all new paintings continuing the artist’s ongoing interrogation of the potential to communicate through abstract painting.  


The title of the exhibition recalls medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen’s concept of “viriditas,” an attribute of the divine qualities of nature and the human spirit. Drawn from an array of visual references—Fra Angelico, Constable, Matisse, and Monet, to name a few—as well as somatic experiences, this body of work examines nature’s unique lushness through investigations of light, color, and texture.  What may appear as an allover composition in Lonegan’s work reveals, upon further observation, figure-ground relationships that put forth a tension between surface effects and deep space. A continuation of the artist’s ongoing series Rainbow Paintings, beginning in 2015, the works in the exhibition employ a full spectrum of hues. Graphic areas of paint read as objects from one viewpoint and then shift into fractured illusions of light from another. 


The artist’s educational background in applied physics lends a methodical approach to her practice. In the studio, sketches on paper capture the progression of works as their painted layers dry. While painting, Lonegan moves the canvases from the wall to the floor as she engages with them as objects in space: this movement of the canvas destabilizes the directionality of paint. Each canvas builds over time with marks ranging from loose and fluid to short and staccato, ultimately influencing each other to form the lines of an atmospheric visual poem. 


The paintings in O Nobile Viridity are best experienced in situ. Lonegan’s subtle decisions, like the use of transparency and impasto, provide a materiality that grants a viscerally rewarding encounter. 


Caitlin Lonegan (b. 1982, Long Island, NY, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) received her BA from Yale University in 2005, where she studied applied physics and art, and her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2010. Lonegan’s interdisciplinary background and continually evolving interests in such topics as color theory, logic structures, and literary strategies have influenced the parameters of her compositions and the serial approach to the carefully considered layers and construction of her canvases. Solo exhibitions include Vito Schnabel Gallery, New York, NY (2022, 2021); Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Vienna, Austria (2021, 2018); Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles, CA (2018); and ACME, Los Angeles, CA (2012; 2010). Lonegan’s works can be found in many museums and permanent collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany; Berezdivin Collection, Puerto Rico; Strauss Collection, Rancho Santa Fe, CA; Benton Museum, Pomona College, Pomona, CA; and SoArt Collection, Vienna, Austria.