Rachel Sharpe

Gravity and Grace

de boer is pleased to present Gravity and Grace, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles based painter Rachel Sharpe. The exhibition unfolds captivating narrative through cropped-in and meticulously detailed oil paintings on linen. Sharpe's canvases serve as narrative vignettes, portraying romantically charged depictions of everyday objects and uncanny spiritual moments.

In ‘Phone’ a woman’s foot is depicted stepping on a coiled phone cord. The subtle nuance of her nervous tick is frozen, and the resulting punctum thus exposes the vulnerability of the instant eliciting the feeling of a lack of control. Punctum coming from Roland Barthes’ seminal writing on photography is a useful reference in Sharpe’s paintings. Specifically to Sharpe’s still-life paintings which functionally freeze moments that range from the innocuous and mundane, to uncanny and surreal. Punctum here refers to constituting a private meaning unrelated to any cultural code. Sharpe's paintings allow for interpretation, depend on ambiguity, and by ceasing to be overtly symbolic consent to self interpretation.

The title of the exhibition, Gravity and Grace, is a reference to French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil’s first published work of the same title. Sharpe, like Weil, is interested in how grace operates in the world despite force and contingency. As Simone Weil wrote 'The reality of the world is the result of our attachment. It is the reality of the self which we transfer into things. It has nothing to do with independent reality. That is only perceptible through total detachment. Should only one thread remain, there is still attachment'.


Rachel Sharpe (b. 1990) is an American painter born in Seattle, Washington and now lives and works in Los Angeles. Sharpe danced ballet professionally starting at the age of eleven and attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. A self-taught painter, Sharpe’s oil paintings make use of dramatic chiaroscuro lighting and cropped in compositions resulting in an emphasis on corporeal and tactile textural elements. Sharpe has exhibited her work internationally, with her first solo exhibition taking place at de boer, Los Angeles, and subsequent exhibitions taking place in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and New York.

Artists: Rachel Sharpe