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Contemporary art

Alexandra Lerman: Immediate Release / Tina Kim Gallery, New York

Alexandra Lerman: Immediate Release exhibition at Tina Kim Gallery

Alexandra Lerman: Immediate Release / Tina Kim Gallery, New York
May 1 - June 28, 2014

Tina Kim Gallery is pleased to present Alexandra Lerman’s first solo exhibition, Immediate Release.

A coincidence of the calendar becomes a critical frame. The first of May commemorates May Day, an ancient folk festival meant to awaken the wintering body through conviviality, dance, and song, also, International Workers’ Day, the 20th century’s concession to the solidarity of laboring bodies in almost every country of the world. The 1st of May saw the opening of Immediate Release, the new exhibition of multi-media artist Alexandra Lerman.

Alexandra Lerman’s Immediate Release presents a multi-layered installation of drawings, terracotta tablets, ceramics, and performance by Madeline Hollander that literally and metaphorically diagrams the capture of the body by the intersecting forces of technology, capital, and representation. The inauguration of a new kind of May Day, then, that understands that the body’s movements are no longer simply instrumentalized through the mechanics of labor, but also by the codification of its informal moments of respite: social communication, relaxation, aesthetic expression.

Two walls of the gallery are hung with terracotta maps depicting the gallery staff’s circulation through the space, traced by a finger dragged across the wet tablet’s surface and finished with a pinch, a now ubiquitous gesture for minimization, for which Apple briefly owned a patent. On an adjacent wall, Sumi ink drawings on legal forms render the 26 poses of Bikram Yoga, which tried to license to traditional, commonly-held wisdom of the body movements it taught. These components supplied a kind of elementary formal dictionary for Hollander’s choreographed performance that unfolded in front of them: at the opening, and then again on May 10th, the gallery’s central column become a kind of maypole for four dancers who looped through a series of movement sequences abstracted from Apple Inc.’s touch screen gestures, BikramChoudhury Yoga Inc. poses, and moves from Balanchine™ Ballet. In the intervening time, the stage around the column has been strewn with freestanding ceramic totems impressed with the positions the body takes during the performance.

At one level, the performance exists as the corollary release to the implicit capture of the body through the licensed systems of movement it borrows from: emancipation through appropriation. The movements are loosed from their various proprietary rationalizations and applications, existing momentarily for and by themselves. And yet the intentionally awkward and repetitive choreography also asks where exactly is this body being released into? Not just a commercial gallery, but, more generally, another regime of representation that may prove to be no less administered.

We are reminded that the original spirit of the folk May Day, like every bacchanal, was not just immediate release but temporary release, too, sanctioned only by its agreement to be defined as an exception. In this way, Lerman’s art is also like the festival: not an outside, but an interval- the moment of the body in mid-air, when the feet have left the ground and not yet returned.
—A.E. Benenson

Immediate Release is curated by Ceren Erdem.
Alexandra Lerman (born 1980, St. Petersburg, Russia) lives and works in New York. Lerman completed her MFA at Columbia University in 2012 and received her BFA from Cooper Union in 2004. Lerman’s individual and collaborative projects have been shown at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, Anthology Film Archived, Austrian Cultural Forum, Artists Space, Janos Gat Gallery, the New Museum in New York, MUSAC in Spain, and the Hermitage in Russia. For 2012-2013, Lerman was a resident at LMCC Workspace Program, New York; in August, 2012 she took part at The Banff Centre Visual Arts Program: 01 The Retreat: A Position of dOCUMENTA (13), Alberta, Canada; from 2014 through 2016 she is taking part in the Open Sessions at the Drawing Center, New York. In 2012 Lerman co-founded Torrance Shipman Gallery, an artist run space in Brooklyn.   

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  • Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics / Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh

    Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics at Contemporary Craft

    Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics / Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh
    April 25 - November 1, 2014

    The Transformation series, one of the Society for Contemporary Craft’s signature programs, was established in 1997 as a biennial juried exhibition focusing on traditional craft media–glass, wood, metal, clay, and found materials–in rotation. The exhibition seeks out an international selection of artists redefining their medium to create work that is challenging and thought provoking; inviting us all to reconsider our notion of “craft.”

    This year’s focus is on clay. Clay has been used, decorated, coveted, and collected for thousands of years, yet in the hands of contemporary artists this irresistible medium continues to surprise through innovative techniques, forms, and functions. Visitors are invited to see what happens when makers push the boundaries of time-honored craft materials—right before our eyes, something old is new again.

    In conjunction with each Transformation exhibition, the jurors award the participating artist whose work best displays the tenets of excellence and innovation the Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize. Named in honor of SCC’s founder, the award is accompanied by a $5000 cash prize.

    Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics features the work of all 31 of the Raphael Prize finalists, a selection of internationally recognized and emerging artists. The exhibition highlights outstanding and innovative examples of contemporary works in clay, all of which have been created within the last year. The work of three regional artists—Chuck Johnson of Venango, PA, Erica Nickol of Pittsburgh, PA, and Ian Thomas of Slippery Rock, PA—is included in the exhibition.

    Linda Swanson of Montreal, Quebec has been selected as the winner of the Society for Contemporary Craft’s (SCC) 2013 Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize competition. Two honorable mention honorees, Lauren Gallaspy of Salt Lake City, UT and Lee Somers of Montevallo, AL, and one merit recipient, Lauren Mabry of Philadelphia, PA, were also announced at the exhibition opening on April 25, 2014.

    Swanson’s winning entry, Cypreus Lumen, 2013, is a 20 inch round wall disk made from crystalline glazed porcelain with a painted aluminum rim. The turquoise glaze looks almost liquid with the faintest ripple of movement on the surface. A patch of deep red disrupts the calm in a dynamic swirl of motion. “Processes of change, formation, and dissolution are caught in this crystalline glazed surface,” says Swanson of the piece. “A flow of molten colorants in an optically ambivalent and luminous frozen moment recalls geology as well as biology, and elicits material affinities between the body and the world around us.”

    Linda Swanson Ceramics - 2013 Raphael Prize Winner

    As the 2013 Raphael Prize winner, Swanson shows several other ceramic works in Transformation 9, each exploring the changing nature of matter. A site-specific installation similar to her piece Osmogenesis (recently seen at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN) was installed in SCC’s main gallery throughout the run of the exhibition. Combining the slow and steady drip of water onto a clay-covered steel surface, the piece is constantly changing. As the water burrows through the clay, the underlying metal surface is exposed in a collection of bubbling craters. Swanson describes the piece as exploring the “interdependence of organism and environment, as well as organism and organism – in which one species is created, or at least sustained, by and through another.”

    Born in Los Angeles, CA, Swanson received her B.A. in Art History from University of California Santa Barbara, her B.F.A. in Ceramics from California State University, and her M.F.A. in Ceramics from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, Alfred, NY. Currently, she lives in Montreal, Canada where she is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University. Swanson’s ceramics have been exhibited in SOFA Chicago with the Lacoste Gallery, Elemental at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, and INFESTATION, a public art installation at the Parcs Canada Lachine Canal Historic Site in Montreal. In 2013, Swanson was named an Emerging Artist by NCECA, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.

    An honorable mention award was given to Lauren Gallaspy for her piece, Giving Up the Ghost, 2014. The startling 16” tall sculpture combines soft, feminine lines with a mass of ceramics shards and strips. Gallaspy received her M.F.A. in Ceramics from Alfred University and has been named a NCECA Emerging Artist. She describes her work as being “about imbalance—the vulnerability of living things— and the sometimes violent, sometimes pleasurable, almost always complex consequences that occur when bodies and objects in the world come into contact with one another.”

    A second honorable mention award was presented to Lee Sommers for his work, Scape IV, 2014. Having also received his M.F.A. in Ceramics from Alfred University, his work has been exhibited throughout the United States and China. Known for his distinctive ceramic collages, Sommers explains his process as “a coupling of fleeting notions and physical realities. Collage is a key strategy in both the physical and conceptual organization of my work. Drawing from a variety of sources, ongoing acts of sampling, collecting and cataloging, leads to a critical mass of components. Weaving a matrix of relations between these parts, I find compositional epiphanies - parallels to aesthetic experiences etched in my memory.”

    Additionally, the jurors gave a merit award to Lauren Mabry for her piece, Curved Plane, 2013. The artist, a M.F.A. graduate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, describes her work as “painterly, abstract, ceramic sculpture.”

    Lauren Mabry Ceramics at Transformation 9

    The jury for the 2013 prize was composed of Joshua Green, Executive Director of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts; Jae Won Lee, a Korean American ceramic artist and Associate Professor at Michigan State University; Alexandra Raphael, enamel artist, London, England; Catherine Raphael, metalsmith and storyteller, Pittsburgh, PA; Kate Lydon, Director of Exhibitions at SCC; and Janet McCall, Executive Director at SCC.

    “This prize honors artists who are redefining the boundaries of their media to create work that is challenging and thought-provoking. The strength and recognition of this competition has grown over the past 17 years and continues to challenge our viewers understanding of craft today,” said McCall.

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  • Elements in Harmony: Contemporary Japanese ceramics at Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
    December 21, 2013 - June 2014

    Collection of Richard B. McMahon

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  • Dual Natures in Ceramics: Eight Contemporary Artists from Korea / SFO Museum, San Francisco

    Dual Natures in Ceramics: Eight Contemporary Artists from Korea / SFO Museum, San Francisco
    May 17, 2014 - February 22, 2015

    “In modern art, as everyone knows, the beauty of deformity is very often emphasized, insisted upon. But how different is Korean deformity. The former is produced deliberately, the latter naturally. Korean work is merely the natural result of the artisan’s state of mind, which is free from dualistic man-made rules.”
    —Bernard Leach (1887–1979)

    Renowned British studio potter Bernard Leach once acknowledged that Korean potters are admired for their naturalism and spontaneity in creating ceramics. Scholars have attempted to define the beauty of Korean ceramics as “artless art” or “unplanned plan.” Indeed, Korean ceramics have been produced by the second nature of matured, skilled hands, sometimes transcending any rules, knowledge, and intentions.

    During the twentieth century, Korean artists and theorists grappled with the interplay of modernization and tradition. Some artists looked to the genuine, fresh, and fundamental qualities of Korean potters from the past as inspiration to create more appealing modern concepts. Through Korean ceramics, they have explored a dialogue between the traditional and the contemporary as well as East and West.

    The eight artists in this exhibition revive and reinterpret aspects of traditional Korean ceramics in various ways. Yoon Kwang-cho and Lee Kang Hyo discover artistic freedom in Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) buncheong (white-slipped stoneware) ceramics and apply white slip in playful and innovative ways. Buncheong is a distinctive type of Korean ceramic that flourished during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Both artists’ ceramics have the whimsical, rustic, and audacious characteristics of buncheong in addition to contemporary elements. Joseon dynasty whiteware was the main foundation for Kim Yik-yung and Park Young Sook. Park has experimented on the uniquely Korean globular jar, the so-called ‘moon jar,’ while simultaneously exploring other Korean porcelains including a blue-white ware shown in this exhibition. Embracing whitewares’ core traditions, Kim Yik-yung complements innovative surface treatments and explores new types of glaze.

    Techniques used in traditional Korean ceramics are another matter for the artists in this exhibition. Roe Kyung Jo is known for his marbled-ware technique (yeollimun). The technique was traditionally used for celadon wares, but Roe applies it to other wares. Onggi, a form of earthenware that predates porcelain production, served various purposes in Korean households. Lee Inchin started his works based on onggi wares but expands the technique using new kinds of glazes and experimenting with their applications.

    Koo Bohnchang and Yeesookyung go further in interpreting traditional Korean ceramics. Through photographs and video art (newly created for this exhibition), Koo reveals the organic qualities of Korean ceramics that have been overlooked or disregarded by our bare eyes. Yee utilizes and renders the superfluous aspect in ceramic production. Using abandoned ceramic shards, she translates the original concepts of ceramics into more innovative sculptural works that sometimes puzzle the viewers about the concept of ceramics as art in the twenty-first century.

    Although their techniques, methodologies, and approaches are different from each other, these eight artists playfully add complex layers onto the history of Korean ceramics through their own interpretations and expressions. Dual Natures brings fresh perspectives to traditional Korean ceramics and suggests new paths of expression for a new century.

    This exhibition is co-organized by the Asian Art Museum and SFO Museum and is curated by Hyonjeong Kim Han, Associate Curator of Korean Art, with assistance from Silvia Hari Chang, and Chihyun Lee at the Asian Art Museum.

    Dual Natures in Ceramics is located in Terminal 3, Boarding Area F. The exhibition is located post-security and is only accessible to passengers ticketed for travel through Terminal 3. There is no charge to view the exhibition.

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  • Hannah Wilke: Sculpture 1960s-’80s at Alison Jacques Gallery, London
    April 24 - May 29, 2014

    © Marsie, Emanuelle, Damon and Andrew Scharlatt, Hannah Wilke Collection & Archive, Los Angeles. Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Photography Michael Brzezinski.

    > More exhibitions (gallery) / View the list of contemporary ceramics exhibitions

  • Jun Kaneko: A Stage for a Shared Dream / Locks Gallery, Philadelphia

    Jun Kaneko contemporary ceramics exhibition at Locks Gallery

    Jun Kaneko: A Stage for a Shared Dream / Locks Gallery, Philadelphia
    May 2-31, 2014

    Locks Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of ceramic works by the artist Jun Kaneko, alongside video excerpts of the artist’s opera design for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

    Stemming from his ongoing concerns regarding spatial relationships and installation, Kaneko has fluidly moved between his sculpture and theater practice. The late art critic Arthur C. Danto applauded Kaneko’s previous opera design (for Madama Butterfly) stating that, “The production unfolds like a shared dream.”

    The exhibition highlights the imaginative color palettes along with the bold and organic patterns that have become a creative signature for Kaneko’s interdisciplinary aesthetic. Discussing his glazing process, the artist remarked that, “I start thinking about orchestration of the colors around the work as a whole… sort of like a symphony. Everything has to make an interesting harmony to become one, to be there as one statement.”

    With this installation of Kaneko’s Dango (freestanding stele forms) and wall-mounted slab works, a new conversation can begin between the artist’s studio and his contributions to the opera stage. Within the varying forms of his Dangos, their figurative presence is transformed to the theatrical. The exhibition is presented on the occasion of the east coast debut of The Magic Flute at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. alongside an installation of monumental Dangos in the Hall of Nations.

    Jun Kaneko (born in Nagoya, Japan) lives and works in Nebraska. The artist has shown extensively in the U.S. since 1964 and has had exhibits in Finland, Norway, Japan, South Korea and Canada. Kaneko’s work is in over fifty museum collections throughout the world including the Arabia Museum, Helsinki, Finland; Detroit Institute of Arts; Los Angeles County Art Museum; Museum of Art and Design, NY; The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Phoenix Art Museum; Rhode Island School of Design Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2013, Kaneko’s recent sculptural works were the focus of a large-scale installation in Millennium Park in Chicago.

    Kaneko’s design for the opera Fidelio debuted at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia in 2008. The east coast debut of his design for the opera Madama Butterfly became the catalyst for a citywide celebration in Philadelphia with sculptural exhibitions at the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza, City Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and at Locks Gallery.

    Coinciding with the Locks Gallery exhibition is a sculptural installation in the Kennedy Center’s Hall of Nations from April 9th through May 19th, 2014. The Magic Flute— featuring Jun Kaneko’s set, projection, and costume design—will run at the Kennedy Center from May 3rd through the 18th, 2014.

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  • Emma Woffenden: Falling Hard / Marsden Woo Gallery, London

    Emma Woffenden: Falling Hard at Marsden Woo Gallery, London

    Emma Woffenden: Falling Hard / Marsden Woo Gallery, London
    May 15 - June 21, 2014

    Emma Woffenden continues to explore the figure and the fragmented body in her latest sculpture series, ‘Falling Hard’.

    Using a variety of mixed materials including glass, jesmonite, polystyrene, clay and metal, Woffenden creates a discourse around the interconnectivity of the body as a physical and psychological site and the impact of what the body – whole or fragmentary – expresses. The influences of social structures and the dynamics of power relations on the individual imbue her sculpture with a palpable sense of internal conflict.

    Interpretation of contradictions and opposites is a pervasive theme in this new series of work; how internal emotional experience is expressed through theexternal action of the figure, the aesthetics of symmetry and asymmetry, the erotic and fetishistic power of religious sculpture, culminating in the unsettling yet exquisite appearance of her sculptures. The dualities Woffenden confronts in the ‘Baby Hammer’ hybrid object - corporeal and material, playful and brutal, fragile and resilient - hint at violence both real and symbolic.

    Woffenden’s uncanny forms trespass upon the viewer’s imagination, casting an oblique light on the human condition.

    Emma Woffenden (b. 1962) studied at West Surrey College of Art & Design (1981-1984) and the Royal College of Art (1991-1993). She employs a full range of complex glass and mixed media techniques to make works that explore the power of myth and archetypes, and the human condition.
    Widely recognised as one of Britain’s leading glass artists, her work is included in a number of international public collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Wellcome Trust and the Crafts Council, London; Ernsting Glass Museum; Broadfield House Glass Museum, West Midlands. Her award winning designs for Transglass can be found in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She was appointed North Lands Creative Glass Artistic Director in October 2013. She lives and works in London and France.

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  • SCORES: Fujita, Cole & Lopez / Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC

    SCORES: Fujita, Cole & Lopez /at Cross MacKenzie Gallery

    SCORES: Fujita, Cole & Lopez / Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC
    May 9-31, 2014

    Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “SCORES” an exhibition of new ceramic sculpture and photographs by three artists whose work is based on repeating dozens or “scores” of elements to create something greater than the sum of their individual parts. Each artist’s work is full of repetitions, multiples, and variations of a seemingly simple form, built up to a greater whole, creating order out of disorder. Together, the pieces are in conversation with one another.

    Michael Fujita’s ceramic hand rolled tubes are laid row upon row until a handsome vessel takes form. Glazed in blues and greens, the macaroni-like bowls evoke various visual textures, drawing upon our tactile sensibilities. This is a labor of love, patience, and detail, and it therefore comes as no surprise that the artist experienced carpal tunnel syndrome while building these works. In his previous show at our gallery, Fujita’s repeated element was individually glazed spheres the size of gumballs, each work was multi-colored and looked almost machine-made. His new work, however, differs in its monochromatic palette, and the ragged edges serve to emphasize the handmade aspect of the vessels. Stacked one by one, each tube is completely unique, and the overall effect is of an entity growing organically of its own accord.

    Linda Lopez’ ceramic sculptures are also labor intensive. Like Fujita, she becomes entranced in her repetitions and creates rather comical furry shapes that are reminiscent of sea anemones. Her clay teardrops elegantly melt down along the surface and are placed layer upon layer until the entire form is covered as densely as a head of hair. Lately she has extended tendrils from the core opening up her monoliths into the surrounding space, growing outward.

    John Cole’s new series of photographs called the “Full Bleed Series” at first glance seem like Washington Color School paintings, Gene Davis-like, made of multiple stripes of color. The fact that these are actually extreme close-up views of the edges of stacked magazines is a delight. By refocusing one’s eyes to take in the tiny scale of the magazine page colored edges, it simultaneously gives us a way of looking at the ceramics. His observations give us a full perspective by both zooming in and zooming out of focus. Each image is made of scores of pages, not only filling the frame of the photograph, but also continuing past the edge of the frame, implying an endlessly repeating pile of magazines.

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  • Edmund de Waal: Atmosphere / Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent

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    Edmund de Waal: Atmosphere / Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent
    March 29, 2014 - February 8, 2015

    Edmund de Waal: Atmosphere presents a new installation by the renowned ceramic artist and author.
    De Waal, who grew up in Canterbury and is best known for his large installations of porcelain vessels and the international bestselling book Hare with the Amber Eyes, showcases a major new commission for Turner Contemporary’s Sunley Gallery. This is the third commission produced for the Sunley Gallery following those by Maria Nepomuceno in 2012 and Daniel Buren in 2011.

    For this ambitious project the artist has created an installation in response to the space, light and architecture of the Sunley Gallery with its double height windows and spectacular views over the North Sea. Atmosphere (2014) comprises of a series of 9 large, suspended vitrines that are in conversation with the mutable light from the sea.

    Suspended at different heights, the lines of the 20-40 vessels within each of the vitrines offer the viewer an array of horizons as they move through the space both on the gallery’s ground floor and from the overlooking balcony. In Atmosphere De Waal brings the changing weather into Turner Contemporary and echoes the ways in which artists as diverse as Gerhard Richter, Hiroshi Sugimoto and JMW Turner have thought about clouds and horizons.

    This commission will be accompanied by two other works by the artist. Juxtaposed alongside Atmosphere is Bauspiel, a group of vessels residing on a floor based plinth in a configuration which reflects those in the nearby suspended vitrines. Turner Contemporary’s ground floor corridor is transformed by a new wall-based text installation, which sees De Waal convert the corridor walls into a life-size notebook, drawing on an array of sources from Turner’s letters to the poems of Baudelaire.

    Edmund de Waal states: “When thinking about the changing landscape of clouds, I remember Constable’s beautiful letter about lying on his back and doing ‘a great deal of skying’. There is no more extraordinary place to look at the sky than the Sunley Gallery at Turner Contemporary. Atmosphere is my attempt to make a response to this threshold between a building and the air outside. Suspended in the space are nine vitrines holding 200 small celadon and grey porcelain vessels. I hope they will provoke some skying of their own.”

    The exhibition coincides with a new monograph, Edmund de Waal published by Phaidon Press and featuring contributions from AS Byatt, Peter Carey, and Colm Toíbín amongst others. Edmund de Waal, which will be released on 5 May 2014, will be the first and only complete survey of the artist’s career to date, weaving together both his literary and ceramic practices.

    Edmund de Waal was born in 1964. He studied English at Cambridge University and ceramics in both England and Japan. De Waal is best known for his large scale installations and much of his recent work comes out of a dialogue between minimalism, architecture and music, and is informed by his passion for literature.

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  • Anna Maria Maiolino. Between Senses / Hauser & Wirth, New York

    Anna Maria Maiolino. Between Senses at Hauser Wirth New York

    Anna Maria Maiolino. Between Senses / Hauser & Wirth, New York
    May 7 – June 21, 2014

    Opening reception: Wednesday, May 7, 6–8 pm.

    Anna Maria Maiolino is one of the most significant artists working in Brazil today. In a career spanning five decades and a diversity of disciplines and mediums, ranging from drawing, sculpture, and artist books to video and performance, she expresses through her art a bottomless concern with creative and destructive processes and, above all, the never-ending search for identity. Maiolino’s multidisciplinary practice has consistently explored the viscerality of embodied experience – often obliquely through fragmentation and abstraction – and engaged the human body’s processes as analogs for both the making of art and the making of modernity. As an immigrant coming of age in politically unstable Brazil, Maiolino has perfected a dialogue between opposite yet complementary categories in a practice that dissolves dichotomies of inner and outer, self and other. Hers is an art in search of a new language for the liminal realm of daily human existence.

    Beginning 7 May 2014, Hauser & Wirth will present Anna Maria Maiolino. Between Senses, the gallery’s debut exhibition devoted to the artist. On view will be a selection of drawings, works on canvas, sculptures, photographs, and videos, as well the sound installation ‘Two Beats’ (2012), which features the artist’s poem ‘Eu so Eu (I am I)’ that was presented at dOCUMENTA 13.

    Born in wartime Italy in 1942, Anna Maria Maiolino immigrated with her family to South America in 1954, living first in Venezuela and moving to Rio de Janeiro in 1960. ‘I found myself being an immigrant again, without speaking Portuguese’, the artist recalls. ‘What kept me going was my obstinate search for a language, my obsession to become an artist. All my energy was spent trying to become an individual. The existential and art formed one anguished body. My life was dominated by anguish and doubts, although I also wanted to participate in that moment of great political, social and artistic effervescence that was pushing artists to make alliances with the previous generations… We wanted to develop an autonomous national art, far removed from external patterns and models. We dreamt of a free and autonomous Latin America, with its own economic resources, and art was no different in this respect’.

    Maiolino’s early experiments in the 1960s connected her to important movements in Brazilian art history, shadowed by the turmoil and governance of military repression: Neo-Concrete, New Figuration, New Objectivity. Maiolino took part in the radical reconfiguring of the art object – and thus the art institution and the artist – during this period. Along with Lygia Pape, Lygia Clark, and Hélio Oiticica, Maiolino participated in the 1967 exhibition, ‘New Brazilian Objectivity,’ which symbolized a cultural shift in previous constructivist traditions and established a new vision for the production of art in Brazil. After living in New York from 1968 to 1971, she returned to Brazil and devoted herself to drawing as a means of self-expression. Working to further define her identity as both an individual and an artist, she initiated a new series of works on paper that gave emphasis to the gesture, the action, and the process of making. Since the 1990s, Maiolino’s drawings – examples of which are included in the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth – have engaged similar methodologies in her continual exploration of other materials and media, from sculpture to video and installation.

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  • Hannah Wilke: Sculpture 1960s-’80s / Alison Jacques Gallery, London

    Hannah Wilke: Sculpture 1960s-’80s at Alison Jacques Gallery, London

    Hannah Wilke: Sculpture 1960s-’80s / Alison Jacques Gallery, London
    April 24 - May 29, 2014

    Alison Jacques is proud to present its fourth solo exhibition of the late American artist Hannah Wilke (1940 – 1993). For this show, the focus is on Wilke’s sculpture from her early terracotta works of the ‘60s through to the more richly coloured installations of the ‘80s. The show also encompasses the theme of her body as sculpture seen in performative photographs as well as drawings from the ‘60s and ‘70s which either refer to her sculptures or demonstrate a visceral physicality that feels completely in dialogue with her sculptural practice.

    The gallery has worked in partnership with The Hannah Wilke Collection & Archive, Los Angeles, who have enabled us to assemble a succinct survey of iconic and lesser-known works which shed light on the many aspects of Wilke’s sculptural vocabulary. One of her earliest and most important sculptures That Fills Earth, (1965) is an earthy terracotta cube opening into organic forms. By pairing this explicit symbol of Modernism: the cube, with quasi-Metaphysical essentialism, Wilke demonstrates an idea of the “Modern Woman” – deconstructing a complicated living being into an ostensibly simplistic material form.

    The show continues with a survey of sculptures that have been widely identified by scholars but rarely seen in public – from a trio of bronze sculptures, Athens (1979) to examples of her Generation Process Series grid groups from the mid-1980s. In each of the latter, Wilke placed hand-painted ceramic sculptures in geometric arrangements across painted boards, employing colour, pattern and her signature folded-gesture forms to both acknowledge and subvert her male contemporaries’ obsession with the mathematics of grid systems.

    The main focus of the show is Wilke’s choice of materials and what they represent. In the exhibition catalogue to accompany Gestures, the most comprehensive survey of Wilke sculpture to date (Neuberger Museum, New York, 2008), the curator Tracy Fitzpatrick states:
    “Wilke’s practice is rooted in her devotion to malleability and her interest in vulnerability. Throughout her career she created art from unusual materials, plastic and fragile in composition, and then placed these objects in compromising situations – hinged with pins or glued to walls and boards, placed freely on the floor, always seemingly on the verge of disaster, always questioning: Will it fall? Will it crack? This vulnerability, so much a part of Wilke’s work, is also carefully constructed strategy, perilous but orchestrated by the artist. The combination of these seemingly opposing forces creates a unique tension throughout her artistic production.”

    An area of Wilke’s work, which is shown here in depth, are the kneaded erasers series from the 1970s, in which Wilke used simple everyday grey colour erasers and adapted this material into an entire series of work. Wilke placed her kneaded erasers, moulded into little gestural folded forms, onto various surfaces including boards on plinths but also everyday utensils such as Fork and Spoon (1974) and vintage postcards including Sea Wall (1975), and The Beach, The Pines, Cotuits, Mass (1977).  Other materials including Wilke’s signature chewing gum are present in the show, from photographs which make up the iconic SOS series to her lesser known large-scale photographic work called California Series where Wilke photographed her gum sculptures outdoors attached to foliage and flowers.

    Earlier this year, The Guardian newspaper described Hannah Wilke as “one of the most subversive women artists in history”. Throughout this exhibition, in whatever medium her sculptural forms reside, we are constantly reminded that Wilke saw no contradiction between creating pioneering, confrontational works that helped redefine the extent of feminist activism, whilst creating aesthetically pleasing forms. Wilke was an unapologetic aesthete, stating in an interview with Lil Picard in 1973: “The concept of the disagreeable object had offended me, and I decided to make ‘agreeable objects’. I don’t feel happy on any level with disagreeable forms – I love beautiful things”.

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  • Lynda Benglis / Cheim & Read, New York

    Lynda Benglis exhibition Cheim and Read Gallery

    Lynda Benglis / Cheim & Read Gallery, New York
    January 16 - February 15, 2014

    Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1941, Lynda Benglis moved to New York City in the late 60s. Her early, ground-breaking work – landscape-like, sculptural installations of poured polyurethane foam and latex – confronted the then-current, male-dominated tropes of Minimalism with brightly-colored, biomorphic forms which embraced themes of ambiguity, femininity, nature and transformation. Their formal ambiguity resisted easy definition: Benglis has long critiqued the art world’s attempt at classifications and hierarchies, as well as societal boundaries of sexuality and gender. Simultaneously seductive and grotesque, Benglis’s work has always been the result of a fluid and organic working process, in which difficult-to-control materials help determine the final outcome. Her ceramic sculptures, though more intimate in scale, are also constructed with deference to the medium’s inherent characteristics. While the clay works accentuate issues she has addressed throughout her career – the blurring of distinctions between pliable and rigid, accidental and intentional, form and shapelessness – they also expand the scope of her artistic methods, engaging notions of craft, functionality, and primeval history.

    Benglis had experimented with clay as a student in the early 1960s, but didn’t pursue it as a medium until the early 1990s. Her newest work, made in New Mexico, retain the earthy, elemental, primal nature of clay, and highlight the material’s unique susceptibility to the artist’s touch: clay easily preserves the physical impressions of the hands which mold it. Benglis does not use a potter’s wheel, but hand-builds with tubes and slabs of clay, pinching, stacking, squeezing, pulling and smoothing them into complex sculptural compositions. Sometimes wave-like and lyrical, sometimes squat and spherical, Benglis’s ceramics explore various manifestations, excavations and manipulations of form. She collapses the boundaries between interior and exterior space, using both hollowed out and compacted elements which collide and fuse together reinforcing the sexual undercurrents of her muscular, polymorphic shapes.

    Benglis’s ceramics condense the full-bodied gesture of her earlier work into the more focused expressions of her hands. As with her other work, color becomes an equally important component. Benglis’s glazes – pinks and mauves, earthy greens, blacks, ochres, and blues – are oozed, dripped, brushed and poured on, coalescing in some areas and avoiding others, providing texture and variability to the already tactile, unglazed surface of the clay. Benglis’s painterly application of glaze re-contextualizes her forms, as if they were not sculptural, but paintings in three-dimensional, physical space. Again, ambiguity and transformation remain at the core of her practice. Benglis’s creative process is evident in her works’ final realization: one imagines its physical making and thus identifies with the intensity and focus of her artistic methodology.

    Lynda Benglis resides in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work is in important public collections, and has been exhibited extensively. Benglis was the subject of a 2010-11 international retrospective which traveled to The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Le Consortium, Dijon; New Museum, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

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