Is art the product of the actions required to make it or is it the actions themselves? ‘Primary Process’ draws on artist Laura Hapka’s art-making process to comment on the relative values of method and meaning in a painter’s work. Using tone-on-tone primary colors—2 reds, 2 yellows, 2 blues—this show reprises the simplification Hapka has pursued recently in her work by simplifying the colors used. Stripping down her technique to its essentials, she paradoxically adds layers of meaning.

Primary colors are uncomplicated, honest and independent—the values that drew Hapka to her ‘Process’ series. The paintings in this series are multifaceted, but minimal, seizing on the initial (ie. primary) phase of the artist’s process—hand making pure sheets of acrylic paint, which in her prior work she then manipulated and restructured. Arresting the process at this early stage, Hapka now reveals a beauty intrinsic to the materials used, a beauty that does not require manipulation. Her goal: to eliminate unnecessary noise and distraction while still creating an experience for the viewer. Limiting the chromatic range takes that simplicity one step further.

Even at her most minimal Hapka remains a playful artist. The titles for the paintings in the show refer to the time of their creation—the American political primaries of late 2019 and early 2020. Eschewing the minimalist naming conventions of minimalist art (while lightly mocking the typical viewer’s indifference to titles), Hapka again echoes the show’s larger notion that the primary stages of any endeavor determine its ultimate character.

Laura Hapka is a self-taught artist, with undergraduate degrees in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design and a Masters of Business Administration. She lives and works in Oakland, CA. Her work has evolved through experimentation, trial and error, and, correspondingly, the body of work in her ‘Process’ series is not about individual paintings but about how she arrived at the body of work. She is driven to create work that is pure and aesthetically beautiful.