lux,  2018, installation view

lux, 2018, installation view

Mel Prest

Gallery Solo Exhibitions

lux (2018) View Exhibition >>

MoonBrightChime (2014)


Artist Statement

I explore color phenomena I observe in landscape and light. I want my color to seem like a flavor, or feel like a kind of touch or scent. My color combinations create optical mirages (called film color) that appear and hover above the surfaces. The lines are painted by hand, and become wobbly strata, accumulating as soft geometry, extending across the panel’s surface and over the edges, creating perceptual puzzles that tangle the illusion of two-dimensional space. Multiple panel arrangements cast shadows on the walls, linking spaces between the panels, reuniting the panels as one. 

A recent body of work is Lilac Aura. This work is about night blooming flowers inspired by spending time in upstate New York in the spring of 2016.The lilacs were in bloom and their high, tickling fragrance was often present, almost like a shape or form that one could flow through. When my work day was over, around 2am, and it was quiet and dark, I would walk across the tiny Wassaic hamlet from the studio to my room and I'd find myself smelling the lilacs. These large paintings are 60x60 inches- almost to the extent of my wingspan- and are subtle and atmospheric, like the night scents. I was not only inspired by the natural fragrances but also the feeling of outdoor shape-spaces as they responded to temperatures and weather.

I’ve worked with color and line in paint since the year 2000, and the paintings now feels like an object or a place for my own contemplation and inquiry, a background for a conversation, or a place that holds a memory. Some works are about specific places or specific people, which the titles allude to. For example: Occipital Noise was an Internet name for my beloved friend who died. My hope is that the work can be observed in person, from a distance and up close, and that these paintings can be a space for time that we can focus in and out of.

Mel Prest is a non-objective painter whose work is focused on color and perceptual visual relationships and synaesthetic response. She received her BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from Mills College in Oakland. Recent solo shows include: Lilac Aura at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary (2017); In Praise of Planetary Time at B Sakata Garo (2016) in Sacramento, COLOR CHANT at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary (2015), Oakland; MoonBrightChime at Galleri Urbane (2014), Dallas. Her works have been included in group shows at: Saturation Point ACME studios, London, UK; The Drawing Center, New York, NY; The Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Durham, NC; Zeitgeist gallery, Nashville, TN; IS Projects, Leiden, The Netherlands; Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Prest has been awarded funded artist residencies at: Ragdale, The Sam and Adele Golden Artist Foundation, Willapa Bay AiR, The Wassaic Project and Vermont Studio Center, among others. As an independent curator, Prest has organized shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich and Zagreb. She is also a founding member of Transmitter, a collaborative curatorial gallery initiative in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.

Selected Works