Press Release - "Pushing Up Daisies" by Lena Gustafson


Pushing Up Daisies
Lena Gustafson

Opening Reception: Saturday May 11th, 12-10pm.
Artist Talk:  Saturday, May 11th at 4pm.
Showing Through: Friday, June 7th, 2019
1523 b Webster St. Oakland, CA 94612

pt. 2 Gallery is proud to present Pushing Up Daisies, a solo exhibition of paintings by Oakland-based artist Lena Gustafson. This new body of work centers on transformation, cyclical changes that happen within and outside us. Her painted figures channel this energy and express it, capturing it in a single moment and freezing it for examination.

“When I first heard the phrase “Pushing Up Daisies” I was attracted to the beauty of this term that describes death and transformation. I imagined a body transforming its nutrients into flowers creating new life for its loved ones to mourn and connect with. Then I imagined all of the inherited nutrients/information our bodies receive when we are born; the repressed memories, as well as moments of pleasure, encapsulated somehow in the bones. Some of this information, I suspect, is never identified, lying dormant for many lifetimes until it rustles awake within the body, often as a complete surprise.

I think of women who were diagnosed with hysteria or “nervous illnesses” and of people who were considered “insane” and put away. I visualize the folding of anger repressed. The swallowing of breath, and wildness tranquilized. I’m interested in where all that energy goes, which crevasse it gets stuck in, and how one might be able to transform and release it.

Many of the figures in this body of work are shown transforming information; either inviting sensation into their bodies or expelling energy that no longer serves them. The bloom sequences and non-figurative paintings serve as a reminder of time and evolution. Representing the figure has always been central for me because I believe the body itself is a vessel for all information; its many nuances and unspoken truths.” ––Lena Gustafson


Lena Gustafson (b. San Francisco 1989) received her BFA from the Art Institute of Boston in Illustration and Art Therapy. In 2011 she co-founded Night Diver Press with Peter Calderwood. Together they use silkscreen and other alternative printing techniques to create and publish multiples in the form of prints, books, zines, and monotypes. They have exhibited work at Art Book Fairs in Mexico, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area. Lena's first solo painting show was at Park Life Gallery in 2017. She has since exhibited work at an array of galleries and fairs including the FOG Fair in SF, the Headlands Spring Art Auction, Juxtapoz Clubhouse in Miami, and pt. 2 Gallery in Oakland.