Sofia Leiby

The Drama of Leisure

12.15.13 – 01.18.14

“When you have time, it is no longer free.” Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures, 1998

“ ‘Do you imagine that the clerks in my office use their intelligence, or that they reflect when they are copying papers? Oh, but they don’t; thinking is not their business; they are nothing but fingers which scribble.’ ” Paul Lafargue, Sale of an Appetite, 1903

The majority of my average week is beholden to a specific architecture of time. I work a 9-to-5, and so I am compensated for my labor per hour. At work, I am always watching the clock, hyper aware of time ticking by – what have I done this hour, that hour? I come home to the studio, a sectioned off part of my bedroom, and think about the six hours or so left to paint and I am uncomfortable facing this wide-open unstructured time. [1]

working: in an office before painting

working in an office: before painting

working in an office before: painting[2]

I get to painting and the paintings come out rather wiggly and over-caffeinated, maybe the result of having a little bit of energy left in my hands from typing all day. When I work in the studio at home, I try to make a mental switch in the way I think about time, so that I am no longer spending it…nor consuming nor wasting it…nor is it productive or unproductive. I am trying to value the time painting as some kind of unconstrained time, in the same way someone might use meditation, exercise or video game playing as time occupied towards a more subtle and indirect personal gain, activities valued for their present and subjective use[3] rather than their later exchange.

Artistic work then for me here is a ludic activity, painting from other paintings of mine, aiming to creating a cyclical language of forms hermetically sealed within the studio and physically moving things around and listening to loud music while I do so. It is in direct opposition to the kind of labor I do in the office, and closer to these personally useful, domestic activities. I have anxieties about presenting these paintings as “leisurely.” But leisure is a representation that doesn’t exist without the idea of working time; leisure is only ever a display of the consumption of time.[4]

It is important, then, that my process of making the paintings is self-generative, in its subjective use value; when I am painting in the studio I aim to segregate the activity from “work-work in order to label it as something more discrete and specific, that is, a process of image-making with an emphasis on composition using screen-print with acrylic painting. I work on the paintings horizontally and simultaneously, not with a linear narrative in mind but with an expansion outwards of color and form. To do so, I plein-air paint from my own paintings not towards realism but with an eye on capturing some kind of ‘gist’ of a composition, the way one might do a ten-minute gesture drawing in a figure drawing class (these were always my favorite exercises) or a partial-blind contour. As a result, the compositions and colors form a kind of DNA that solidifies across the paintings, which are visually somewhat inbred, with some genetic defects appearing in some works but not others but resurfacing to impair future generations. It is through this rigorous formal peeling-away framing time spent not as work but as “leisure” that I am able to access a distinct, circuitous, useful rather than exchangeable and self-satisfying process.


[1] “So, everywhere, we find in leisure and holidays the same eager moral and idealistic pursuit of accomplishment as in the sphere of work, the same ethics of pressured performance. No more than consumption, to which it belongs entirely, is leisure a praxis of satisfaction.” Baudrillard, Jean. Consumer Society: Myths and Structures (1998), 155.

[2] Randall Szott, in conversation with the author about her paintings, 11/20/2013

[3] Ibid., 153. “For this is the exigency which lies at the bottom of ‘free’ time: that we restore to time its use-value, that we liberate it as an empty dimension to fill it with its individual freedom.”

[4] Ibid., 158. “And leisure is not the availability of time, it is its display. Its fundamental determination is the constraint that it be different from working time.”

(b. 1989) Sofia Leiby is an artist, writer and project-based curator living in Chicago. She has exhibited her paintings, collages and prints at, among others, Springsteen Gallery, Baltimore; KRETS, Malmö, Sweden; LVL3, Alderman Exhibitions, and peregrineprogram in Chicago. She has organized alternative curatorial projects such SCRAP HEAP, a sale of artists’ scraps, at the Medium Cool Art Book Fair, and co-curated Installation Views, an exhibition of photographic documentation of artworks at New Capital Projects. She was contributing editor of the media theory journal Pool from 2011-12 and is the co-founder of Chicago Artist Writers, an online platform for artist-authored criticism of alternative spaces in Chicago. She has contributed to the online journal WOW HUH and regularly publishes art criticism in New City. In 2013, she was included in the Midwest Issue of New American Paintings. She received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago SAIC in 2011.

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (2013)

    mixed media on canvas, 16 × 12.25 inches

    sold

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (After A.B.) (2013)

    mixed media on canvas, 26 × 22 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (2013)

    mixed media on canvas, 17 × 11 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Lyrical tangerine (2013)

    mixed media on paper, 15 × 11 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (2013)

    mixed media on canvas, 22 × 18 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Sketch for Duck in Situ (2013)

    acrylic on paper, 12 × 9 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Post-Cubist Manifesto (2013)

    mixed media on canvas, 20 × 16 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (Blue duck) (2013)

    mixed media on canvas, 18 × 12 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (2013)

    mixed media on paper, collage, 12 × 9.25 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Squiggle Painting (2011)

    mixed media on canvas, 17 × 11 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (2013)

    mixed media on gifted panel, 11 × 8.25 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    The Steps (2013)

    mixed media on paper, 14 × 11 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (2013)

    screenprint on paper; unique, 17 × 12 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Untitled (J.G.) #1a (2013)

    acrylic on found panel, 11 × 7.25 inches

  • Sofia Leiby

    Installation view, The Drama of Leisure, devening projects + editions, 2014

  • Sofia Leiby

    Installation view, The Drama of Leisure, devening projects + editions, 2014

  • Sofia Leiby

    Installation view, The Drama of Leisure, devening projects + editions, 2014

  • Sofia Leiby

    Installation view, The Drama of Leisure, devening projects + editions, 2014

Current

Franziska Holstein

works on paper

09.07.14 – 10.18.14

offspace

Aaron Carpenter

Cartoons + C.A.B.S.

09.07.14 – 10.18.14

Archive

Seth Hunter

held/crushed

07.20.14 – 07.20.14

Mistakes Have Hidden Intention

05.25.14 – 06.28.14

Gerd Borkelmann

Different Every Day

03.09.14 – 04.19.14

offspace

Mike Rea

Exile on Main Street

03.09.14 – 04.12.14

offspace

Felix Malnig

Fringe Area

01.26.14 – 03.01.14

Craig Yu

Phantom Limb

01.26.14 – 03.01.14

Peter Fagundo

Model Questions for the Sun, the See and Other Things…

12.15.13 – 01.18.14

offspace

Sofia Leiby

The Drama of Leisure

12.15.13 – 01.18.14

Nathaniel Robinson

The Sensible Range

10.20.13 – 12.07.13

offspace

Variety Lights

Variety Lights featuring Thora Dolven Balke + Sam Lipp

10.20.13 – 12.07.13

offspace

Alain Biltereyst

09.08.13 – 10.12.13

Sterling Lawrence

If I Plucked You from the Sea

09.08.13 – 10.12.13

Matt Rich

Razors & Vapors

04.28.13 – 06.08.13

offspace

Vincent Hawkins

Flying Suit

03.17.13 – 04.20.13

Nancy Ford

Land Loping

03.17.13 – 04.20.13

Rainer Spangl

UUUUU

02.03.13 – 03.09.13

offspace

Shit is Real

new editions by Chicago artists

02.03.13 – 03.09.13

offspace

Nick Ostoff

Tracing

12.16.12 – 01.26.13

Allison Wade

The Rest of the More

12.16.12 – 01.26.13

offspace

Julia Hechtman

10.14.12 – 12.08.12

Christopher Michlig

10.14.12 – 12.08.12

offspace

Michael Pfisterer

08.26.12 – 10.06.12

Gary Stephan

08.26.12 – 10.06.12

06.10.12 – 07.21.12

Jin Lee

04.22.12 – 06.02.12

offspace

Dorothee Joachim + Richard Roth

04.22.12 – 06.02.12

I Surrender

03.11.12 – 04.14.12

offspace

Alexander Valentine

01.29.12 – 03.03.12

Joshua Abelow

Songs from a Room

01.29.12 – 03.03.12

Mark Booth

The Sea is Represented by an Irregular Shape

12.11.11 – 01.21.12

offspace

Scott Fortino

Unfurl

12.11.11 – 01.21.12

offspace

Andreas Karl Schulze

10.16.11 – 12.03.11

Dianna Frid

Evidence of the Material World

10.16.11 – 12.03.11

offspace

Sound & Vision

08.28.11 – 10.08.11

Volker Saul

Rough Cuts

08.28.11 – 10.08.11

Leslie Baum

The eyes have it or how to win a staring contest with a monster

05.22.11 – 07.02.11

offspace

Works on Paper

05.22.11 – 07.02.11

offspace

MultipleMix

01.30.11 – 03.19.11

Andreas Fischer + Melissa Pokorny

Kabinett 5

01.30.11 – 03.19.11

Britta Bogers, Mark Holmes, Jered Sprecher

Kabinett 4

12.05.10 – 01.22.11

Dana DeGiulio, Marie T Hermann, Anders Ruhwald

Kabinett 3

10.24.10 – 11.27.10

Richard Rezac + Gary Stephan

Kabinett 1 + 2

08.29.10 – 10.16.10

Paul Cowan + Matt Stolle

Causality without Cause

07.18.10 – 08.15.10

offspace

Wheatstone Stereoscope

07.18.10 – 08.15.10

Renate Wolff

Skies in Between

05.23.10 – 07.08.10

offspace

Berlin Drawings

05.23.10 – 07.08.10

offspace

Visceral Geometries

04.11.10 – 05.18.10

Nathaniel Robinson

de facto

04.11.10 – 05.18.10

Peter Otto

The Lodger

03.07.10 – 04.09.10

offspace

Heiner Blumenthal

A Hand-off Between

01.31.10 – 03.01.10

Rodney Carswell

hither and yon (little prisons)

01.31.10 – 03.01.10

Home Wreckage

Subversive Musings on Domestic Ideals

12.06.09 – 01.24.10

offspace

Time, Trauma, Drama and Rhyme

12.06.09 – 01.24.10

Dagmar Varady

Redden

10.18.09 – 12.01.09