Mel Prest: Lilac Aura 

April 7–May 25, 2017

Mel Prest, Marigold Ladder, 2016, acrylic on panel, (28) 5 x 5 x 2 inch panels, 96 x 12 x 2 inches overall
Courtesy of the Artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, Oakland

Chandra Cerrito Contemporary is pleased to announce Lilac Aura, a solo exhibition of paintings by Mel Prest, April 7 through May 25, 2017.

Can paintings evoke scents? Can they conjure the elusiveness of fog? Mel Prest’s newest works aim to capture these immaterial atmospheric phenomena. She transforms the gallery with an installation of acrylic paintings, including some of the largest she has made to date, that extend her signature use of line as the basis for compositional structure and color as expressive reference. In this body of work, Prest portrays natural occurrences that often go unnoticed.

Sparked by her residency in upstate New York last spring, during which the nighttime air was filled with the strong fragrance of lilacs, Prest became fascinated with night blooming flowers like lilacs, star jasmine and Victorian box. Using suggestive color, vibrating linear patterns, and titles that identify certain plants, Prest’s paintings offer an unlikely means of triggering distinct floral scents. Together they create an imagined garden and remind us of the powerful connection between memory and our sense of smell. 

In one installation of forty small paintings in shades of blue, lavender, and gray, Prest explores the movement and ethereal quality of drifting San Francisco fog. Shocks of yellow on the panels’ edges recall glimmers of sunlight piercing through the haze. Prest’s sensitive observations of natural phenomena require quiet attentiveness, and the work she produces is intended to foster meditative reflection. To that end, Prest includes seating as part of the installation, offering a place for viewers to converse with the work and one another while surrounded by the subtle but potent aura of her paintings.