My paintings look abstract. They reference hard-edge geometric abstraction, abstract expressionism, minimalism. In fact, however, they are based on found graphics and data from online and print media, and are vivid pictures of the financial stresses of our times—of increasing income and wealth inequality, of rising debt, of corporate malfeasance. In bold colors, the paintings are attractive, even cheerful, but they reflect an unsettling reality.
In the gouache paintings, figures based on Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights are juxtaposed against graphs of flat wages, declining savings, rising health care costs. While the figures in the central panel of Bosch’s painting indulge in pleasurable activities, Bosch warned of an inevitable hell to come. The analogy for our times, as we revel in tech toys and gourmet food, is facing an underfunded old age to come. In an era when most people are living with stagnant incomes and paltry retirement savings, I ask, Are We Having Fun Yet?
Lauren Gohara received her BFA from Art Center College of Design and her MFA from Hunter College. She lives and works in New York City.