Red Spine, 2015. Courtesy of artist and Richard Heller Gallery.
Red Spine, 2015. Courtesy of artist and Richard Heller Gallery.

“I am always trying to make art that is exciting to me,” says painter Vanessa Prager, who unveils her solo show of portraits, Dreamers, on Thursday at Richard Heller Gallery in her hometown of Los Angeles. Laden with thick layers of oil paint, Prager’s larger-than-life images appear almost sculptural, which is a drastic departure for the artist, who until now has been best known for her precisely penned and painted works. “The idea evolved very organically out of an emotional time I was going through,” says Prager, the younger sister of hyperrealist photographer Alex Prager. “I kept digging deeper and it started showing up in my work.” Blending into their saturated backgrounds, Prager’s nameless characters are barely visible up-close, but at distance they seem rise out of frantic ether like ghosts. Oddly enough, the gloopy, large-scale canvases feel more personal than her intimately sized drawings. “Everyone adds their own history to a work if it’s good,” says Prager. “I’m always excited to see what people will identify with.”