John Millei: Woman In a Chair

Using Pablo Picasso’s famed 1938 painting titled Portrait de femme (Dora Maar), 1938, as a framework for a new series for formal paintings, both large and small, Los Angeles-based abstract painter John Millei embarked on a series of paintings titled Woman In A Chair. The exhibition, which is on view through July 2010 at Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills, featured a room full of towering paintings, each reaching over eight feet tall, tightly packed along the gallery walls. While the paintings borrow the form of Picasso’s famed painting, they are not specifically concerned with either the subject of Dora Maar, nor Picasso himself. Instead, the image of the woman in a chair serves as a simple armature for the artist to revisit certain stylistic periods of his own career.  As the paintings align the wall in close proximity, the viewer can easily compare the seemingly endless variations of a single subject. Lush and voluminous bands of paint sit next to flat graphic spans of color on certain paintings, while others contain tightly woven bands that are placed beside areas of raw canvas. The handling of the paint seems effortless and almost instantaneous, however it is evident that every mark and color combination is careful considered. While the paintings obviously explore Millei’s art historical predecessor in repetition, the work remains playful while carrying the weight of this lineage.

On view concurrent with Woman In A Chair at Ace Gallery’s Wilshire gallery is another major exhibition of paintings by the artist titled, Maritime. Millei has an extensive resume of international exhibitions dating back to 1981, and has produced eight solo exhibitions with Ace Gallery over the past 10 years. Reviews and overviews Woman In A Chair have appeared in the LA Weekly, Beautiful/Decay, and countless online publications such as ArtDaily.