Kathryn Andrews – Sophie Calle – Leslie Hewitt – Bharti Kher – Alicja Kwade – B. Ingrid Olson – Cornelia Parker – Gala Porras-Kim – Tatiana Trouve
Perrotin New York is pleased to present Fond Illusions, a group exhibition which joins emerging and leading artists from across the globe.
In separate contexts, the participating artists have been recognized for their command of unconventional materials that bridge the fundamental qualities of 2D and 3D artworks. The results are abstract and cohesive, physical and psychological, sculptural and, occasionally, otherworldly. Fond Illusions supplants familiar conceptual pathways that impress vision to the body.
To catalog what these impressions might be, consider a summary of recent work: how photo-montage has often adopted both mnemonic and sculptural qualities in Leslie Hewitt; or how entangled missives became crystalline curios in Sophie Calle; how ancient fossils denoted futuristic colloquia unintelligible to the uninitiated in Gala Poras-Kim; how infra-thin traces of human touch have become data points on networks of well-worn objects in Tatiana Trouvé; how mobile constellations gathered from the commodity dusts of everyday life formed surreal cloudbursts in Cornelia Parker; how Bharti Kher inflected traditional cultures of India with the conceptual idioms of nonwestern avant-garde; how the digital multiplication of self-design created ethereal city-states populated by visible yet imperceptible denizens in B. Ingrid Olson; how enclosures have become defamiliarized forms of domestic architecture in Alicja Kwade; and, finally, how found objects enact consumer rituals in the work of Kathryn Andrews. Instead of familiar formulas for making contemporary art, we are left with the impression of inner workings belonging to each artist’s mind.
Consider, then, as you walk through the galleries, how a chosen medium corresponds to the flat world of images and intersecting corporeal realms that rely only partially upon visual presence.
Sculpture for Kathryn Andrews hinges upon the missing yet felt presence of others. Readymade materials in June 21 (2017) include a cluster of balloons, both diminished and partially deflated, which hint at celebrations after the fact. The bars to which the balloons are attached may reference a gate or a jail cell. It also simply may be a sculptural armature. In any case, the cluster of soft and hard materials, expressing freedom and enclosure, analogizes memory as childlike, marginal, and exhausted even when freshly made.
Sophie Calle’s The Blind series (1986) highlights the various processes of apprehension to identify their inherent flaws. In this series of works Sophie Calle asks blind people who have never had sight to describe what they believe to be beautiful. The work which is composed of a photo of that person, a text of their response, and photos of the items they’ve described forces the viewer to question notions of truth and beauty.
Leslie Hewitt pictures a place within a place. Untitled (Blue) (2013) adds to the age-old tradition in art history of the mise en abyme, or an image including a smaller selfsame within itself. Though not identical, the recursive formal structure appears here as a fractal geometry of squares: the photograph leaned against the gallery shows a mirroring board propped against a wall. The blank wooden slate within the artist’s heavy frame forms a still life. Yet, seen from without, Untitled (Blue) materializes a kind of tabula rasa. Similarly, Untitled (Where Paths Meet, Turn Away, Then Align Again) (2012) realizes subject matter in the broadest sense. Folded white steel resembles the fragility of printing paper. Next to the photo-works the folded frames bodily scale within an abyss of cellular reflections magnify somatic intensity.
Bharti Kher’s tondos apply the traditional head marking of Indian wives to the painterly legacies of the abstract art canvas. This removal of the signifier from to female body to the masculine realm goes much further. In Kher the hindu bindi adopts renewed spatial qualities that make the red dot more than the imprimatur of a married woman but also a 21st-century camouflage capable of recoding subjectivity. It is a single point of ownership for some and multivalent network of intersectionality from the vantage of others.
Gala Porras-Kim weaves together the exhibition conventions of natural history and art history in her ongoing Rongorongo series. If legibility is the hallmark of modern science, it is also a cornerstone of patriarchies that have long presided over the field of visual art. To enter a terrain not beholden to western cartographies of power, Porras-Kim’s employs an untranslatable language. The Rongorongo glyphs of Rapa Nui (known to outsiders as Easter Island famous for its mysterious monoliths) lifted from a tablet are more than found material or the reanimation of a dead language. These images represent terra ignota, where ethnographic paradigms map the Western insularity.
Alicja Kwade asserts scale as contained infinity. Incident (Trait Transference) (2016) presents an array of coated mirrors where the wall meets the floor. The earth-colored fragments are reminiscent of Robert Smithson’s Non-Sites. Kwade appropriates gallery architecture in this expansion of Smithson’s sensibilities as “dimensional metaphors”. The panes are portals out of the confines of the white cube. Collectively they serve as a placeholder for some elsewhere thatprojects the mirrored body next to abstractions, which defy logic and representational specificity.
B. Ingrid Olson’s photographic abstractions rely on self-portraiture in which the artist’s body is an assortment of fragments. A sensual loss of self devoid of continuity nonetheless occupies carefully chosen if muddled environs. Whether the focal point is self, object or effects, the photos amount to disembodied texture and color. Olson goes the opposite way of Millennials by inserting a labyrinth between interior and exterior space, selfhood and self-regard. A finishing formal element of the work entails a highly mediated process that aspires to the geometry of the Minimalists and the light-works of Larry Bell. Olson distresses and variously masks the photographic print. This final phase distances the hard image-as-material from the ethereal act of exposure.
Cornelia Parker offers her own alternate relations of history in Unsettled (Jerusalem) (2012-2013). Anthropology in this creative reduction concerns a simple fact: history bears down upon everything in the material world. These slates taken from the streets of Jerusalem float a few inches above the gallery floor. Their almost imperceptible levitation marks their found art status. More importantly it arrays an anti-monument. The worn boards form a niche of seeming insignificance. Yet when considered in the congested city replete with the monotheistic religions’ most hallowed of sites, Parker’s tentative objects emplace liminality in a contested land. Like Parker’s other works from this time, Unsettled (Jerusalem) is a dream image snatched from the fissures of everyday life.
Untitled (2016) by Tatiana Trouvé blends sculpture and installation in art objects that are often intriguing and unapproachable at once. Found objects, whether discarded furniture or totemic talismans, dispossessed of a clear form or function. A black basin haloed by ponderously delicate tubing resembles a diagram of protons and neutrons swirling in an atom. It may as well be the rings of Saturn. Her installation work conjures a cosmic state of suspension in which an inanimate world turns imperceptibly.