Love Letter to Tahnee Lonsdale

Tahnee Lonsdale, paper thin (2020/2021). Spray paint and oil on canvas. 60 x 48 inches.

Often on my mind these days are the blurred distinctions between our public and private lives. LA-based artist Tahnee Lonsdale’s recent paintings tenderly depict this dissolution of boundaries. The entangled, abstracted figures in her works are varying degrees of translucent, signaling corporeal permeability. Her figures appear to be waxing and waning as they inhabit dreamlike interiors and color fields. It is often unclear to whom each limb belongs and how many bodies lay within the bounds of the painting. 

I find solace in Lonsdale’s intuitive treatment of color and playful painterly approach. Lonsdale uses oil and spray paints jointly in her practice, both of which contribute to the layered, gestural nature of her works. She fuses tradition (oil paint, art historical, and religious references) with contemporary manipulations and tensions (spray paint, questions of domesticity, intimacy, and gender roles). 

Her work from the past year speaks to collective anxieties surrounding isolation, physical proximity, and our inescapable interconnectedness. In Paper Thin (2020)—one of the first paintings I encountered of hers—a headless figure sits on a pink table with tangerine forearms and hands crossed, cradling a bouquet. A tangle of limbs surrounds the figure against the verdant green background. The concentrated orange of their hands reminds me of an infrared heat lamp, a neon sign illuminating, and a flickering fireplace: warmth. Lonsdale’s paintings are a welcome invitation to turn inwards. 

Author: Emma Frohardt

Emma Frohardt is a writer and creative interested in how we tell stories about art and artists. Her work has been published in Salty and Lenscratch. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University, where she studied Art History and Spanish.