“What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” — Eugène Delacroix
Perhaps one of the most shameful aspects of aging is the gradual realization that maybe we didn’t know it all when we were younger. Added responsibilities hasten this—a relationship, a monthly rent, a child, and the sustainability of all of the above during a period of global and local upheaval. Larry Madrigal’s genius lies in the candid awareness that he is far from genius, and that there is just as much drama and valor in a tender moment with his spouse or child as there is in the toppling of King Charles X. How Dare We Now Live, Madrigal’s second solo exhibition with Nicodim, champions the struggle and comedy of staying together when all external pressures are angling to keep us apart.
“One of the things I love so much about figurative painting is that it cannot exhaust the examination of our deepest human concerns. As cliché as those concerns may be, like, what is true love, painting can still unearth these timeless questions and apply them to contemporary living.” — Larry Madrigal
While Scattered Daydream, Madrigal’s first exhibition with Nicodim, focused largely on the baroque interiors of contemporary Phoenix (his young family’s hometown), many works in this exhibition have ventured outdoors, as much a commentary on how dare we now live as a flexing of the new oils on his palette. The darker shades of his inside work swing into rococo pastels in the land-and-skyscapes that hug and rainbow around the open-air action. Madrigal is looser in the negative spaces his brush might have once forced into action, belying the confidence of an older soul, someone who has been around the block a few times already. In turn, these gaps thrive in their new role as subjects. In “Now or Never Again,” 2021, a gust of wind playfully disrupts the momentousness of a wedding proposal. In “Cycles of Fulfilment,” 2021, the father diverts his gaze from his spouse and daughter, and lets a vivid sunset steal the spotlight for a moment. How Dare We Now Live is a Bildungsroman that begins after the hero has already returned home.
Larry Madrigal (b. 1986, Los Angeles) lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona. Madrigal completed his MFA at Arizona State University in Tempe in 2020. Recent exhibitions include How Dare We Now Live, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2021; solo), Scattered Daydream, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2020, solo); When You Waked Up the Buffalo, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2020); Painting the Figure Now II, Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Wasau, Wisconsin (2019); New Art Arizona, Shemer Art Center and Museum, Phoenix, Arizona (2019); and Body Language: Figuration in Modern and Contemporary Art, curated by Julie Sasse, Tuscon Museum of Art, Tuscon, Arizona (2017).