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Paris Reid

September 22 – October 5 2023

How do you properly iron a Möbius strip?

This absurdist task is one of the head-scratching, circular-logic thoughts that comes to mind when describing the young painter Paris Reid, who has already had enough colorful experience for a Netflix series. And yet, more importantly, she has had enough colorful experience to arrive at a singularly engrossing art practice that (in keeping with quantum paradox) she has filled to the brim with voidance.

Reid was raised off the grid in Washington state with no electricity or running water, no movies or television, and no traditional school setting. Her parents had moved to this rural setting from California to be part of a spiritual colony where meditation was the core curriculum; people came from all over the world to participate in the colony’s programs. One of the hardest programs, a sensory deprivation exercise, challenged blindfolded participants to navigate from the edge of a forest, up and down ladders, and through underground tubes, to a predetermined center. This transcendental boot camp maze took most of a day to succeed, and most had no success at all. As a teenager, Reid excelled at it, which attracted the interest of fellow meditation devotee and actress, Salma Hayek.

Because she was fascinated by science (biology, neuroscience, and above all quantum mechanics), that’s what Reid chose to study when she went to college. But a couple years in, her love of science ran up against her frustration with academia, and the thought of a career immersed in it set off a crisis of faith. Shifting gears completely, she decided to study her other great childhood love—painting.  After four years of art school, Reid reunited with Hayek, who invited her to live and paint in her home in Bel-Air.

Though Reid describes her splashdown into Hollywood as a kind of culture shock, her media-free childhood stood her in good stead. All but oblivious to most of the celebrities she met, Reid gravitated to a unique point of view, painting portraits that captured celebrities’ dual status as both pop-culture demi-gods and powerless quarries of the paparazzi. 

After a four-year stint living with Hayek, immersed in what some might consider the best artist’s education ever, Reid was ready to stretch her wings. She moved into her own studio and began exploring a more surreal sensibility she had been slowly introducing into her work. 

Today, that effort has culminated in a new body of work which Reid unveils this month in her first public show ever. In the new oil paintings, Reid explores the kinds of questions she grew up puzzling over—about time and space and the paradoxes inherent in quantum physics. One famous dilemma hinges on whether light is a wave or a particle. In Reid’s work, it’s this—is painting a noun or a verb? And standing in for the traditional clothed male voyager is Reid’s own naked body, her eyes closed in a palpable homage to her earlier trials of navigating an entirely imagined reality blindfolded.

So what was once imagined is now invented. Reid was raised with the world view that sees in quantum mechanics a kind of modern mysticism, in how it fundamentally embraces the possibility of two or more distinct truths at once. So, while her canvases appear to present one image, one resolution, one possible scenario, they also represent the collapse of many possibilities and many outcomes down into one moment. A moment in which being and doing, nothing and everything, are one and the same and infinitely entangled. Like an unironed Möbius strip. 

–David Colman

Paris Reid was born in 1988 in Washington. She attended the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California, and received a BFA from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Paris Reid lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

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