HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)
HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)
1 More
HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)

Map of the Eastern Sierras

Details
HILARY PECIS (B. 1979)
Map of the Eastern Sierras
signed, titled and dated 'Hilary Pecis Map of the Eastern Sierras 2017' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
24 x 30 in. (61 x 76.2 cm.)
Painted in 2017.
Provenance
Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2018
Exhibited
East Hampton, Halsey McKay Gallery, Desert Paintings, July 2017.

Brought to you by

Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Specialist, Head of Sale, Post-War to Present

Lot Essay

"The things we surround ourselves with are signifiers of who we are and who we want to be."
—Hilary Pecis

Painted in 2017, Map of the Eastern Sierras is a visual and psychological feast, wherein the viewer is invited to ponder life and all of its possibilities through Pecis’s inimitable ability to conjure beauty in the banal. Included in her 2017 solo exhibition Desert Paintings at Halsey McKay Gallery, the present work belongs to a body of paintings inspired by one of the artist’s trips through the Southern California desert. Largely drawn from snapshots taken along the journey, these paintings feature everyday objects that “…are chosen to serve as opportunities for explorations in paint handling, color, line, and pattern recognition” (Halsey McKay Gallery, press release for Desert Paintings, 8 July 2017). Indeed, in Map of the Eastern Sierras, Pecis accomplishes all of this and more, making this canvas a particularly enthralling example of the marvelously quotidian still-lifes for which the artist is best known.

Often compared to figurative colorists like Henri Matisse, David Hockney and her California contemporary Jonas Wood, Pecis’s work engages with the long-standing tradition of still-life interiors in a personal, hyper-contemporary sense. With “an influencer’s eye for framing and a Fauvist’s love of color,” Map of the Eastern Sierras is a closely-cropped, densely-filled rendering of a surface littered with tell-tale signs of a road trip underway (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 News, 10 June 2021). A dynamically patterned throw blanket dominates the top left quadrant of the canvas in a move that not only anchors the composition but also allows the artist to flex her steadfast control over pattern, line and color, convincingly rounding out the folds of the fabric with little more than simple yet calculated painterly gestures. Interestingly, this particular patterned throw appears to have captivated the artist on more than one occasion, as it appears several times in Pecis’s recent work.

Typical of Pecis’s oeuvre, the canvas itself is devoid of any humans – though the painting still emanates a deep sense of humanity. As Pecis has said, “The things we surround ourselves with are signifiers of who we are and who we want to be” (H. Pecis, 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 News, 10 June 2021). In Map of the Eastern Sierras, a sprawling, fold-out regional map complete with visitor tips and trail routes, drinking vessels that somehow have the feeling of being already emptied, a Sharpie marker, an old Honda car key and a quartet of brightly-colored scratch-off lottery tickets all work together to captivate the viewer in a cloud of youthful nostalgia and freedom. The generic coffee cup design screams independent roadside gas station, and one imagines that the lottery tickets could be an ongoing game between travel mates (whoever they may be), purchased from the vending machines at each pitstop and in turn igniting small but exhilarating moments of hope and excitement along the way – what if? Whether or not this actually occurred is not the point; rather, the point is that despite its highly personal quality – a painting of a snapshot capturing a fleeting moment in the artist’s life – Map of the Eastern Sierras allows each viewer to bring to the table his or her own memories, feelings and associations. In its intentional lack of context but abundance of visual information, the painting is endowed with an inherent freedom for the viewer to interpret and engage with the painting in a personal way, culminating in a surprising sense of warmth and familiarity at the very core of Pecis’s practice. In Pecis’s words, “For me, when a painting is less busy, I feel more pressure to have a ‘feeling,’ whereas in a painting that has more noise and variation, I am liberated in how I want to move around the painting” (H. Pecis, quoted in an interview with E. M. Cheatham, 12 March 2020).

More from Post-War to Present

View All
View All