Nora Riggs: Fortress of Solitaire

March 20th - April 23rd

Tif Sigfrids is happy to announce a solo exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Nora Riggs entitled "Fortress of Solitaire". The show will open on March 13th and remain on view through April 17th. The show is a co-presented with Grifter (NYC) and will be followed by a solo presentation of Nora's work at Grifter in the fall. This is the artists first solo exhibition with the gallery.

If you really want to know a person you must excavate the bits and scraps of their everyday life. Embedded in them like markers on a watch dial are the clues and triggers of every moment. Some flare and stir up with alacrity, others bare the full saccharine weight of dread and longing. But every thing that passes our sight is ripe with the opportunity for reflection on what has passed and how it will repeat in some shadow form of the same experience. Raising a child emphasizes this aspect with incredible clarity. A mixture of exhaustion and reflection prep the mind for reminiscing upon all things great and small. Typically when saying an artist “works from life” it is taken to mean that they are sitting at an easel with something like a bouquet and various objects laid out in front of them or maybe in a straw hat in some pastoral wonderland trying to capture what is in front of them.

However, Nora’s “working from life” is a constantly evolving archeology of the everyday objects that hold all of our memories. She is a hoarder of memories. In still lifes whose faces are carefully messy with objects, no hierarchy is present. Instead we can do a continuous pirouette of associative roll calls. In “Still Life with Dutch Boy”, a hammer peeks up from the bottom next to a clock, surely we could use some of the scattered nails to hammer down this incessant speeding lurch forward in time, maybe slow down the march to the end. There’s a fresh bowl of pasta brain-like, only waiting to get cold and stale. Probably going to need glasses soon to see this up close. That apple core is laid on its back assuming its position waiting for the inevitable. The dreaded driver’s license, if you ever want to realize how old you've gotten just take a look.

This is not a grim stroll towards death, it’s an accounting of time. Something all the more glaring as you watch your child grow. Repeating your childhood in some altered form, a mixture of what you’ve learned and what they innately refuse to go along with. The severed ponytail in “Still Life with Contents of Purse”, snaking its way through a field of peppermints and pills is both the memorial of the once luxurious casual mane that in middle age couldn’t possibly keep up and the nightly braiding of a daughters hair at bedtime. Everything has weight. We could spend all day diagraming this site of a life stilled. Adding to the circular reading of objects with their clues and references is the muscular working and reworking of every moment. Indeed the paint itself is catching on, building up the intense architecture of her investigations.

I would describe Nora’s artist hand as having the deft nimbleness of Fred Astaire with the punching power of Mike Tyson. I wouldn’t be surprised if her paints and brushes cowered as she entered the room and breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the day. A champion thumb wrestler, she captures and pins representation. The images feel so deeply embedded so full of minute force that they seem to still contain all the oxygen and air in the vicinity, so that the atmosphere in the paintings aren’t drawn or painted but exist within. The same can be said for the people whose every expression and every molecule has been wrestled into place. These paintings aren’t casual, they beautifully tread the line of showing all the delicate reflections a mind can place within things and images while simultaneously holding the evidence of Nora’s brute force of control and mania. The results of this balance are paintings filled with studious contemplation upon the frailty of existence, renderings that are simultaneously rigorous and funny, compositions that leave a trail of breadcrumbs literal and figurative and all in all make the viewer feel lucky for happening upon them.

-John McAllister

Tif Sigfrids is happy to announce a solo exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Nora Riggs entitled “Fortress of Solitaire”. The show is presented in collaboration with Grifter (NYC) and will open on March 20th. This is the artists first solo exhibition with the gallery.

Nora Riggs (b. 1972) lives and works in Northampton, Massachusetts. She completed her BFA at RISD in 1994 and her MFA at Indiana University in 1996. Her work will be in an upcoming solo exhibition at Grifter (NYC) in the fall of 2021.