Shannon Cartier Lucy’s Rubedo

Woman with Brick, 2022 oil on canvas
36 x 48 in

One woman balances a brick in her hands, as crystal platters gleam in the background. Another woman strips off a skirt that has gone up in flames. There is an irresistible urge to put the paintings of Shannon Cartier Lucy into words, because it is visual poetry ripe with symbolism. Cartier Lucy ’s scenes are samples of human condition—woman reading, woman in despair. Yet these are banal expressions of something incredibly vast, psychic containers like stills from a time lapse of unconsciousness erupting. 

Her latest show at Night Gallery, Rubedo, which is Latin for “redness,” is a study on the color’s metamorphic capacities as discerned by medieval alchemists. Later, Jung appropriated the term “alchemy” to describe psychological transformation—extreme adversity which leads to the actualization of a “true self.” For followers of Cartier Lucy’s trajectory, Rubedo feels like a crescendo of sorts. After quitting her art practice for ten years to recover and learn psychotherapy, the lore goes that Cartier Lucy was confronted with a mental image of a fishbowl sitting atop a stovetop element, so much so that it had to be put down to canvas. In the years since, Cartier Lucy has produced a prolific new body of work known for its unsettling beauty including Woman with A Machete (2020) and The Loo Table (2021). In Rubedo, the woman in Cartier Lucy’s domestic scenes erupts into fire, a death and rebirth of the self. 

In Jungian alchemy, one is to deep dive into darkness to bring the shadows to light. Our bodies become a fool’s costume, an outer covering for our essence expressed as a beam of light. Cartier Lucy’s expression of this light, through the color red, is her contribution to a lineage of artists attempting to capture the unfathomable mystery of the self. – Claire Milbrath

Skirt on Fire, 2022
oil on canvas
56 x 40 in

Woman at Sunrise, 2022 oil on canvas
39 x 28 in

At the Piano, 2023
oil on canvas
50 x 48 in

Rubedo (Couch on Fire), 2022 oil on canvas
70 x 52 in

Goji Berries, 2022
oil on canvas
38 x 50 in

Rubedo (Hands with Fire), 2022 oil on canvas
28 x 28 in

All images are courtesy the artist and Night Gallery, Los Angeles. Photos: Nik Massey. Install photo: Marten Elder.