When I spoke with Cristina BanBan this past summer, I was struck by something she said. ” I can only say that my work reflects what is happening in my life, because it’s something I do every day. So I grab whatever is in or around me—memories, feelings, a dream, a sentence from a book I’m reading, a conversation with a friend or a situation with a lover.” I was struck because what we have all thought about life over the last year and half is a lot about memories of where we have been, dreams about where we are going, intimacy we lacked or gained. It has been unsettling no matter what you see of it. But BanBan’s paintings speak about a collective tension and dreamlike state in a unique way, a passionate sense of togetherness and longing. 

Her newest solo show, Melancolía, sees the Spanish-born, NY-based painter in Shanghai at Perrotin channeling some of the greatest painters of generations before with a refreshing tension of our current times. She starts the work with a poem:

…but my city comes to me in its own white plane. It lies down in front of me, docile as paper… —Carol Rumens, The Emigrée

This is universe building in the best sense of the phrase. As Kathy Battista wrote, “Her paintings defy any canonical notions of how women should be depicted or understood. She paints women as she sees them and from an autobiographical perspective, in all their wildness, vulnerability, beauty, and complexity.” These are the times we live in, when gestures of vulnerability speak to a wider scope of how we may evolve in our personal lives. —Evan Pricco