The work and career of Lita Albuquerque is now entering its sixth decade of production. To sustain an artistic practice lasting decades is a momentous achievement in itself. It welcomes the opportunity to reflect on the visuals made over the space of that time which trace the evolution of an artistic message.
Albuquerque's studio practice began in the 1970s, a decade beginning with abstract drawings and paintings that were plentifully produced in her studio in Venice, CA, and her residence in Malibu, the location which has been the most fulfilling and consistent home for her life and art. Near the end of the decade, Albuquerque arrived at her famed ephemeral pigment works made in the remote landscapes of Southern California. It pushed her work into conversation with the conditions of the natural world and brought it closer to addressing the relationship we share to the cosmos. Albuquerque began to work with time in a clever and unique way, where time is activated by the soft touch to the landscape and the image made is ephemeral only really lasting within the mind of the spectator.
In November 2018, these ideas brought new harsh and challenging notions to Albuquerque's work, as the devastating Woolsey Fire tore through the Malibu hills, claiming Albuquerque's studio and home. Although initially halted by this event at first, Albuquerque has risen to the call of this event, as the lessons learned from the initial 1970s ephemeral pigment works have prophetically prepared her for how to move forward as an artist recovering from the loss of decades of work.
It is the image in the mind that remains. The life of a star can take different paths in its evolution, one being to explode into a supernova. The fire's touch took Albuquerque's work and left us with only the immaterial image in the mind, and it is from that image where the work lives out its second life, its afterlife as a supernova. We can still see it, and learn from it.
This one of the most vital lessons to learn from Albuquerque's work. It speaks to the conditions of the natural world today, and what is required of us to meet the challenges of our time. Since the early pigment works, Albuquerque has consistently spoke of a collective shift in perspective, of seeing ourselves in relationship to the cosmos. It's one of the primary motivations for the work and the outreach it aims to have. This motivation required the artist to activate locations around the world as an activist for a collective cosmic consciousness.
As Supernovae is an online project meant to share images of rare, previously unknown works made by Albuquerque throughout her career that were lost in the 2018 Woolsey Fire. The project is a space to reflect not what could be, or what has been, it is an effort to place the message of Albuquerque's work into action. The immaterial, the impermanent, and the ephemeral define the nature of the cosmos and the nature of our being, and when we are able to perceive that, we feel the whole of our belonging within the cosmos.