HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)
HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)
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HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)

Upstairs Interior

Details
HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)
Upstairs Interior
signed, titled and dated 'Hilary Pecis Upstairs Iterior [sic] 2019' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
44 x 32 in. (111.8 x 81.3 cm.)
Painted in 2019.
Provenance
The Pit, Los Angeles
Private collection
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Exhibited
Los Angeles, The Pit, From a Place in the Light, April-June 2019.

Brought to you by

Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

A rapidly rising star in a new generation of figurative painters, Hilary Pecis has revived the interior study and brought new excitement to the depiction of everyday scenes. Drawing inspiration from artists like Henri Matisse, David Hockney, Pierre Bonnard, and Andre Derain, among others, she fills her canvases with finely-rendered details until they are overflowing with visual information.

“…in paintings of interiors there is a sort of portraiture that takes place in what people choose to put on display. I love the idea that those objects either define who they are or who they aspire to be." Hilary Pecis

Upstairs Interior is an exquisite example of Pecis’s domestic subjects, and displays her talent for transforming humdrum daily settings into intricate visual feasts where colors pop and spaces open themselves to prolonged looking. “Hilary Pecis’ paintings capture the spaces she inhabits in an intricate and captivating way. Referencing the history and medium of painting, Pecis’ work feels as though it could exist in a number of time periods, while retaining a modern quality” (M. Vogel, “Hilary Pecis Conveys the Essence of an Environment,” Art of Choice, February 28, 2019). Drawing comparisons to her LA contemporary Jonas Wood, Pecis embraces solid colors and bold lines that are as much about creating a composition full of potential energy as they are about accurately describing the spaces she chooses to render.

Depicting a well-decorated corner of a small sitting room, Upstairs Interior looks into a wood-floored area with white walls and a simple fireplace. A low coffee table full of books and a vase of flowers sits atop a patterned rug covered with geometric forms in brown, red, black, white, yellow, and blue which takes up much of the foreground as it slopes off at a slightly unrealistic angle. A tan loveseat and aqua sofa push out of frame, both holding stylish pillows. The right side of the composition shows two vertical windows which gives a brief glimpse of the California landscape outside, its blue sky dotted with a pair of unruly palms. In the far corner, a modest bookcase full of myriad volumes is set behind a wicker chair and surrounded by various works of art and an arching black lamp.

“Still lifes and interiors are deeply rooted in the history of representational painting. There are all these opportunities to noodle away at other artists' or artisans' mark-making, trying to depict something that isn't mine—fonts, or handicrafts, or textiles. It's an opportunity to further my own vocabulary. I get to try out different marks and be a tourist in other people's paintings” (H. Pecis, in conversation with K. Rosenberg, Artful, JUNE 3, 2020). The entire scene is an amalgam of different objects arranged and set up within the confines of the blank white walls. Drawing connections between the constructed nature of still life painting and a well-decorated home, Pecis is able to combine art historical tropes with allusions to modern living.

“Still lifes and interiors are deeply rooted in the history of representational painting. There are all these opportunities to noodle away at other artists' or artisans' mark-making, trying to depict something that isn't mine— fonts, or handicrafts, or textiles. It's an opportunity to further my own vocabulary. I get to try out different marks and be a tourist in other people's paintings." Hilary Pecis
At the heart of Pecis’s work lies an ode to Southern California and the light and atmosphere in Los Angeles where the artist lives and works. The calm views through living room windows show that region’s architecture surrounded by foliage. The even shadows and warm sunlight permeate even those compositions without visual access to the outside. Curator Helen Molesworth, talking about the inclusion of Pecis’s work in an exhibition, noted, “She’s kind of like our David Hockney,” going on to elaborate: “There’s that free, Laurel-Canyon-pool, everyone-sleeps-with-everyone version of L.A.—the David Hockney version of L.A. Then there’s the domestic L.A., where there’s a bowl of oranges in the corner and you’re looking at a book about Bob Thompson, having your matcha tea—and you are slower than your friends in New York.” (H. Molesworth, quoted in T. Dafoe, “‘She’s Kind of Our David Hockney’: How Hilary Pecis Set the Art World Aflutter With Charming Paintings of Life in Los Angeles”, Artnet, June 10, 2021).

Though her canvases, which are split between interior still life and landscape (urban and otherwise), are bereft of people, they are anything but cold. Paintings like Upstairs Interior hint at a lived-in warmth and a human hand behind the scenes. Specific titles or works of art are noticeable throughout her oeuvre as her paintings act like mediated snapshots of daily life. By bringing us inside these private worlds, Pecis allows a brief escape into another world, no matter how rooted in reality it might actually be.

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