Kantor Gallery is pleased to announce “Kermit”, a new solo exhibition by Los Angeles based artist Liz Markus presented in conjunction with The Pit, Los Angeles starting January 23, 2021, through February 19, 2021. The exhibition consists of new paintings in her on-going Kermit the frog series.
Liz Markus has crafted a signature aesthetic through the recurring use of thin washy layers of acrylic paint in purpose of depicting pop cultural signifiers. Throughout her career the subject matter of the works continue to fluctuate but often take on the formal qualities of portraiture even when the central image is not necessarily figurative. Past and on-going series of paintings include motifs such as dinosaurs, cavemen, portraits of socialites, and more.
Markus gives as much credit to the influence of punk and grunge culture for the aesthetic output that she creates as she does to the previously mentioned art historical moments. Ultimately the work creates a convergence of Pop Art ideology with free flowing and gestural painting histories filtered through her own cultural experiences and influences.
“I’ve always loved the photograph of Kermit sitting by a window and smoking a cigarette, in front of him is a cup of black coffee and an ashtray full of butts. He struck me as world weary, the way I felt for long periods in my life, especially when I was younger. At first it seems a strange place and mood to find Kermit in but then again, growing up with Kermit on Sesame Street and The Muppets, he was often quite melancholy. “It’s Not Easy Being Green” is one of the saddest songs ever. And this was material meant to be show to kids! The 70’s in general were like that. I think every song was in a minor key.
I used that photo in a very large painting I made in 2018. I had blown up the scale so Kermit is about 3 feet high and I collaged it onto the canvas. And I had found a bunch of other interesting photos of him. For example, I love him in his reporter outfit, a trench coat and hat with a big microphone. One day Rosson Crowe was in my studio and she asked if I had ever painted Kermit the way I had painted my early T Rex paintings. It was like a spark hit me and I painted him on a 60 x 48 inch canvas as soon as she left. He’s in the same pose as he is in this show but there’s no background. It’s just him, which is often how I start exploring a new subject.
Similarly to the T Rex paintings, my Kermit paintings began as quite minimal portraits of him, just getting to know. So by the time I began the paintings for this show, Kermit had his own ideas about what he’d like to say. It often feels that way when I paint. I begin the painting with a basic figure and then I wait. And I begin to see exactly what moves come next. It feels like the painting is telling me what to do. Sometimes I think, “Really? A tree, right there, for no reason?”, but then I do it and I get, “Kermit with Red Background and Tree”, which feels really right to me.
The paintings progressed in this manner. In all of them he seems to be channeling or emitting auras or starbursts of energy. The ones with the red, white, and blue starbursts I think must come from watching Wonder Woman on tv when I was a kid. I recall lots of patriot starbursts, though I’m not necessarily thinking of these things when I paint. It’s very strange because I painted those two on the day of the rioting at the Capitol. And I was thinking, “Really? Isn’t any reference to the American flag so tainted right now?” But I think the paintings harken back to what it meant when I was a kid. It’s much more Schoolhouse Rock, the educational interstitial cartoons with catchy songs that taught us the basics of US history and how democracy works, “Sufferin’ ’til Suffrage” and “I’m Just a Bill” to name two.”
– Liz Markus, Thoughts on Kermit, January 2021
Markus has had solo exhibitions at The Pit, Los Angeles, The Unit London, Maruani Mercier, Brussels, Nathalie Karg, New York, ZierherSmith, New York, White Columns, New York, Loyal Gallery, Stockholm among others.
Kermit is on view by appointment only starting January 23, 2021 through February 19, 2021, Monday through Friday from
10am to 5pm. To book an appointment to view the exhibition please email firstname.lastname@example.org.