This month in Portland, Oregon, Lindsey Cuenca Walker captures an ever-elusive quality of phenomena in her first solo show at Nationale Gallery. The paintings in Tough and Tender are inviting; soft hues of pinks and oranges meld with easily recognizable shapes of flowers, a cup, a saucer. The works draw the viewer in with their comforting imagery, then seek to question what else could be at play apart from the obvious. These “cliché” objects are reinterpreted on the canvas as Walker seeks to unearth the depth and sincerity behind their surface value. By title alone, these dichotomies of visible and concealed, of tough and tender, and of grounded and fleeting are at the forefront here.

In an attempt to deviate from the undeniably familiar, Walker’s canvases explore ephemera in all its iterations. Her subjects appear to be buzzing, as if unable to stand still in this static format, hence revealing a hidden emotionality. At the same time, their shadow work lends heft and stability to the scene. Humming with energy and tension, these paintings wield a powerful presence. They demonstrate the magical and sought-after ability of finding meaning and interconnectedness even in the most mundane.

Lindsey Cuenca Walker is a multi-disciplinary artist from California, currently working in Portland, OR, where she received her BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2017. Her practice focuses primarily in painting, however, a lover of many mediums, she also works in printmaking, textiles, and ceramics. She has exhibited locally at Stumptown Downtown, One Grand Gallery, and 511 Gallery; and nationally at Annenberg Gallery in Philadelphia, PA.