Studio Visit: Vanessa Prager

Journey across the universe in a one-night-only show of whimsical work by an LA-based painter

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Working out of her garage on a quiet street in the heart of Silverlake, Los Angeles-based artist Vanessa Prager gleefully creates her curious paintings and ink pen drawings. We caught up with the bubbly creative just a few days before her new solo show at ADBD Gallery, dubbed “Across The Universe.” Like many of her shows, it is a one-night-only affair with a special guest host and immersive installation piece, which Prager says helps create a relaxed atmosphere and draws the viewer into her illusory world.


With her works at the framers, on our visit Prager was busy putting the finishing touches on her installation, which will greet patrons as they enter the gallery space at ADBD and subtly continue throughout. Crafting little flies out of wax-like paper with her mom on a pile of real sod grass on the floor of the garage (which she will use to outline the room at her show), she told us about her more recent interest in painting animals—which is primarily “because they’re awesome!” Typically depicting people in heightened situations, Prager transfers that sense of drama to scenes in nature, where she captures the creepy feeling of encountering a group of large animals like deer or elephants.

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The sun streaming in on the corner of the make-shift studio, Prager’s space is filled with warmth and a dizzying array of paints, old frames, tools, craft supplies, music sheets and inspirational works—like a lithograph portrait of her grandfather. You get the sense that there is nothing she won’t attempt to create herself, including the sink in the corner where she tediously cleans her brushes. “I knew I needed a sink out here, so I found an old one at a vintage store, hooked it up to the hose from outside and made it exactly my height.”


While her highly saturated works give way to a false sense of reality, her study of the universe feels accurate. Her portrayal of human behavior scratches at life’s emotional ups and downs, and the contrast between the bursts of color in the foreground and stark backgrounds reflects this natural turmoil.

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Catch “Across The Universe” tonight, 2 June 2011, at ADBD in Los Angeles, hosted by Danny Masterson from 7-10pm, and mark your calendar for her solo show at Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Gallery in April 2012. See more of her studio and works in the gallery below.