Lévy Gorvy is pleased to participate in Frieze New York for the first time under its recently formed partnership. Featuring works by Vincenzo Agnetti, Josef Albers, Lee Bontecou, David Hammons, Seung-taek Lee, Carol Rama, Joel Shapiro, Pat Steir, Frank Stella, Rudolf Stingel, and Günther Uecker, its selection focuses on the tactile immediacy of surface. Emphasizing the subtleties of texture, gesture, and hue, these artists make use of unusual materials whose presence is both concretely physical and emotionally felt.
Part of his “Polish Village” series, 1970-73, Frank Stella’s Nowe Miasto II, 1973, was inspired by the carpentry of wooden synagogues destroyed by the Nazis. Combining traditional materials, such as canvas and acrylic, with unusual media, such as cardboard, chipboard, and felt, its interlocking elements achieve an architectonic complexity. Composed from a welded metal armature filled with stretches of canvas, Lee Bontecou’s Untitled, 1960, intensifies Stella’s balance of blunt materiality and allusive charge. Projecting from the wall to frame two darkened voids, her relief conjures a range of associations, from threatening eroticism to cosmic imponderability.
The austere elegance of Joel Shapiro’s Untitled, 1992-95, obtains a similar sensory intensity. Its planks and beams of found wood showcase the material’s natural striations, heightening its organic tactility. Their combination produces a sense of dynamism, such that the sculpture appears tenuously animate, suggesting a body in the throes of motion. Seung-taek Lee’s Wind, 1972/82, likewise opposes movement and stasis by using curved lengths of rope to render wind’s ephemeral flow. Setting the tension of compression against the abruptness of cutting, his Tied Knife, 1962, also operates through opposition. Suspending our visual expectations, it stages an oblique, yet trenchant, critique of cultural oppression.
In Carol Rama’s Bricolage, 1964, materiality relays to the body. Defined by swaths of red and black paint, the work resembles a bloodied wound. Tearing flesh asunder, it imagines our insides as a mess of menacing metal viscera. Günther Uecker’s Riss (Cleft), 2016, extends Rama’s treatment of the pictorial support as a site of trauma. Rent by an axe and studded with nails, its impastoed surface evidences an originary act of violence. David Hammons’ delicate assemblage of wire, hair, and linoleum also condenses potent energies. Evocative of dreamcatchers and fetish sculptures, it draws on the West African tradition of minkisi, wherein objects serve vessels for spirits.
Drawn from his series of “Feltri” (Felts), 1968-81, Vincenzo Agnetti’s Quasi dimenticato a memoria (Almost forgotten by heart), 1972, positions gold letters atop lush, cream-colored felt. Loosening language from meaning, it eschews logic for an opaque lyricism. Dan Colen’s In the Ketchup, 2014, adopts a parallel posture of irreverence. Rehearsing Jackson Pollock’s iconic skeins with stretched pieces of gum, Colen’s canvas bristles with transgressive energy. Though removed from Colen’s ironic stance, Pat Steir’s Little Blue One, 2016, also probes the afterlife of the Abstract Expressionist gesture. Unabashedly beautiful, its vibrant streaks of paint recode Pollock’s drips as a misty cascade. Made through a silkscreen process that amplifies texture, Rudolf Stingel’s Untitled, 2010, achieves a similarly seductive effect. Traversed by a tangle of red lines that resemble radiating veins or spindly craquelure, its silver ground exudes aura.
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