White Room: Daisy May Sheff
A Mountain Girl with Skyblue Teeth

March 23–May 15, 2021 White Room

Press Release

White Columns is proud to present A Mountain Girl with Skyblue Teeth the debut solo exhibition by the Inverness, CA-based artist Daisy May Sheff.

Sheff’s exhibition comprises a group of fifteen paintings produced over the past year. The exhibition’s title A Mountain Girl with Skyblue Teeth is adapted from the lyrics of Marc Bolan’s pre-Glam era 1969 song ‘Cat Black (The Wizard’s Hat)’. In her re-reading of the lyric, Bolan’s original ‘Mountain Man’ has been transformed into Sheff’s ‘Mountain Girl.’

Writing about her approach Sheff has stated: “My paintings offer glimpses into detailed, private narratives. The paintings share the arbitrary laws of fairytales – a world outside of everyday existence with a logic all its own. They are at once sincere and absurd. All these images recall pieces of stories, which I reconfigure, in a search for something essential to emerge. My paintings are occupied with the amoral, the wild, the left-hand path. Content like this is at once beautiful, sinister, comedic, and camp. I explicitly allow random, haphazard content to enter the paintings: cartoons, antiquated expressions, forgotten drawings scratched on a bathroom wall. Nothing in the paintings is sacred – any previous decision is on the table to be sacrificed. There is a tension – a simultaneous resistance and reverence of something perfect, balanced, and beautiful. The bright colors become muddied and undermined by black and gray. At times, what would be negative space is thick and solid or what should be a body is transparent. Heaviness, lightness, foreground, and background are confused. Many of the paintings devolve so much from their origins that they become abstracted. Language I have been developing compulsively for a long time is reduced down sometimes to a color or shape.”

In this stage-like, painterly space Sheff has created an entirely convincing and self-contained aesthetic realm: an imagined territory populated by a shifting cast of her equally convincing characters. Sheff’s unabashed embrace of narrative, the theatrical, and the folkloric resonates within a recent tradition in figurative art, exemplified by such distinct and maverick voices as Kai Althoff, Peter Doig, Ellen Gronemeyer, and Katharina Wulff, among others. Writing about her own – immediate – influences Sheff has expressed a kinship with the post-war Bay Area figurative painters and especially with the late 1960s/early 1970s Northern Californian ‘Nut Art’ group of artists centered around Roy De Forest: with Sheff both drawn to and drawing from their use of humor and their privileging of the absurd and the phantasmagoric.

Daisy May Sheff (b. 1996) received a BFA from UCLA in 2018, where she studied with Silke Otto-Knapp, Lari Pittman, Barbara Kruger, Ruby Neri, and Benjamin Weissman, among others. Her work has been included in a number of group exhibitions since 2014. This is her first solo exhibition. White Columns encountered Sheff’s work in 2020 when she submitted it for consideration to White Columns’ Curated Online Registry. Since her joining the Registry, her work has been included in the recent White Columns Online show, The Void, which is viewable on our website. To learn more about the Curated Online Registry, visit: https://registry.whitecolumns.org.

For more information about this exhibition, contact: info@whitecolumns.org

Twelve paintings installed in a gallery with white walls. Three paintings are mounted on the left wall, nine on the right and one large one on the back wall.
Four paintings are mounted on a wall to the left. One large painting is mounted on the back wall.
Four paintings of varying size mounted on a white wall.
Two paintings of different sizes mounted on a white wall. The painting to the left contains two figures outdoors, one in a bathtub. The other depicts two figures and a dog, indoors.
Island of my Bed, 2021, mounted on a white wall. A figure lies in bed surrounded by shapes in bright shades, most prominently pink and green.
Nine paintings installed salon style on a white wall.
Nine paintings are installed salon style on a white wall to the right. One large painting is mounted to the wall on the left.
A dog in muted shades of brown and yellow raises its paw towards a figure on the left whose outstretched leg is visible. The figure is partially obscured by large question marks.
A figure in a green hat holding a parasol sits, reclining, inside a boat. The sky appears orange.
A figure places their cartoonishly enlarged ear against the left side of a wall. On the other side, large abstract forms are visible. Large question marks fill up the left edge of the painting.

Daisy May Sheff, installation view, 2021 (Twelve paintings installed in a gallery with white walls. Three paintings are mounted on the left wall, nine on the right and one large one on the back wall.)

Daisy May Sheff, installation view, 2021 (Four figurative paintings are mounted on a wall to the left. One large painting is mounted on the back wall.)

Daisy May Sheff, installation view, 2021 ( Four figurative paintings of varying size mounted on a white wall. )

Daisy May Sheff, installation view, 2021 (Two paintings of different sizes mounted on a white wall. The painting to the left portrays three figures outdoors, one figure is in a bathtub and one is in a bed behind trees. The other depicts two figures and a dog, indoors.)

Daisy May Sheff, installation view, 2021 (Island of my Bed, 2021, mounted on a white wall. A figure lies in bed surrounded by shapes in bright shades, most prominently pink and green.)

Daisy May Sheff, installation view, 2021 (Nine figurative paintings installed salon style on a white wall.)

Daisy May Sheff, installation view, 2021 (Nine paintings installed salon style on a white wall to the right. One large painting is mounted to the wall on the left.)

Daisy May Sheff Keroneous Brabronius, 2021 Oil on canvas 24 × 30 in. (A dog in muted shades of brown and yellow raises its paw towards a figure on the left whose outstretched leg is visible. The figure is partially obscured by large question marks.)

Daisy May Sheff Pearly Shins (Major Brendan Archer), 2021 Oil, pen, and paper on wood 17 × 16 in. (A figure in a green hat holding a parasol sits, reclining, inside a boat. The sky appears orange.)

Daisy May Sheff Hearer who Hears Sounds, 2021 Oil on linen 17 × 21 in. (A figure places their cartoonishly enlarged ear against the left side of a wall. On the other side, large abstract forms are visible. Large question marks fill up the left edge of the painting.)