Skip to content
Alicia McCarthy Untitled, 2020

Alicia McCarthy
Untitled, 2020
Gouache, spray paint and house paint on wood
48 x 48 inches

Press Release

Berggruen Gallery is proud to present Alicia McCarthy, an exhibition of recent paintings and works on paper by Oakland-based artist Alicia McCarthy. This show marks McCarthy’s second solo exhibition with the gallery and will be on view September 3 through October 9, 2020. Click here to enter the digital viewing room dedicated to the exhibition.

Alicia McCarthy’s most recent body of work presents the breadth and dynamism of the artist’s entire oeuvre, centering the myriad motifs she takes as subject matter, from her signature weaves to helices, rainbows, spectrums, and negative weaves. McCarthy’s patterns function with duplicity; while direct and honest, her compositions are also layered with complex, sociological suggestions. In describing her practice, McCarthy explains that she “never uses paint out of a tube,” instead mixing each unique hue to ultimately “stand for individuality and how things work together.”[1] In this way, McCarthy’s artistic practice focalizes around developing a more intense color consciousness in her viewer. 

McCarthy’s work is emphatically structured, yet her panels often boast glimpses of spontaneity and intimacy. The latter is revealed through the distinctive presence of the artist’s hand, whether that be through her paint drips, doodles, handwriting, or fingerprints. These marks serve as subtle “autographs” in which the artist pervades her otherwise formal patterning with an acutely personal awareness. Her intentional use of common material enhances this oscillation between formality and familiarity. Often using found wood, wall space, or office paper as canvas, McCarthy embraces the everyday properties of material to offer a base for her progressively precise compositions.

Extending beyond the artist’s iconic weave motif, Alicia McCarthy includes paintings and works on paper that analyze new geometries. While McCarthy’s rainbows and spectrums explore color radiation, her helices and negative weaves disrupt structural boundaries. Yet no matter the rendered pattern, McCarthy's work reveals increasing intricacy. When McCarthy’s lines become grids and grids become weaves and weaves become entirely mesmerizing patterns, a certain push-and-pull between the singularity of individual mark-making and the holistic nature of the entire image becomes clear.

Alicia McCarthy was born in Oakland, California in 1969. She received her B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1994 and her M.F.A. from the University of California at Berkeley in 2007. McCarthy is considered and integral and pioneering member of the Mission School, an art movement that originated in San Francisco’s Mission district in the 1990s. Strongly influenced by mural, graffiti, comic, cartoon, and folk art aesthetics, Mission School artists drew inspiration from their surrounding urban environment. Today, McCarthy has exhibited important solo exhibitions all over the globe and is in the permanent collections of many major institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Oakland Museum of California, Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, MIMA the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art in Brussels, and the American Academy of Arts & Letters in New York City. Shehas also received numerous distinctions, honors, and awards, including the Artadia Award for San Francisco in 2013 and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s SECA Art Award in 2017. Alicia McCarthy currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

Alicia McCarthy, September 3 – October 9, 2020. On view at 10 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Images and preview are available upon request. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery by phone (415) 781-4629 or by email


[1] Bogojev, Sasha, “Alicia McCarthy, The Wonderful Weave That Binds Us,” Juxtapoz, November 2019.