Lumin Wakoa: Greenhouse

Opening Reception Saturday May 13, 6-8pm


Various Small Fires is pleased to introduce Brooklyn-based artist Lumin Wakoa in her first solo presentation with the gallery. Greenhouse unveils a collection of eight new paintings, following her participation in Frieze Los Angeles’ Online Viewing Room at VSF LA in February 2023.

In Greenhouse, the artist debuts a body of works that shift away from en plein air painting to examine the practice of world-making within her studio. Lumin brings the natural world indoors, as her still life paintings present multicolored abstracted reflections of the foliage-heavy walls within her microclimate. From inside her greenhouse and studio, Lumin’s canvases emerge as painterly and temporal documentation of life within the warm zone. Saturated shades of violet and blue in Ten day bouquet and Night studio with blooming Cherry catch the eye and manifest complimentary to the yellow fluorescent lights used to sustain plant life and illuminate her workspace.

Oscillating between figuration and abstraction, her paintings almost always involve death and evolve from disaster. By creating problems with seemingly unsolvable solutions, Lumin uses her canvas as a space of negotiation between the rational and intuitive mind. In Overgrowth, warm, red gradients almost entirely encapsulate the central figure, daring the viewer to seek out the subliminal elements hidden amongst the dense pink patches of paint. Destruction paves the way for rebirth, as her paintbrush becomes a chisel, carving away to reveal the carefully articulated composition, once obscured beneath rich, layered shades of oil.

Reminiscent of vanitas or memento mori, the skulls, skeletons, dried flowers, and living plants depicted in Lumin’s Greenhouse paintings trigger curiosity and impart a somber reflection on the transience of human life in the wake of environmental disaster. In February’s light plants become symbols of life, as her energetic brushstrokes and vivid color palette serve as reminders that beyond chaos, destruction, and abstraction – new life may reemerge.





Lumin Wakoa (b. 1981, Ashland City, Tennessee) lives and works in New York. She received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. She recently has had solo exhibitions at Harpers Gallery, New York; Taymour Grahne Projects, New York; and Deanna Evans Projects, New York. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Hesse Flatow, New York; Harpers Gallery, New York; James Fuentes, New York; Gaa Gallery, Provincetown; Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, and Abattoir Gallery, among other venues. Wakoa was a recipient of the Dedalus Foundation MFA Grant in 2010 and a Fountainhead Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University, 2010/11. In 2018 she was a fellow in the Sharpe Walentas Foundation year-long Studio Program Fellowship. Her work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, The Brooklyn Rail, ArtMaze, Maake Magazine, Hyperallergic and Artnet News.