Lévy Gorvy is pleased to present new work by gallery artist Karin Schneider at the Armory Show’s 2018 edition of Armory Focus, a curated section of the fair dedicated to solo- and dual-artist exhibitions. For her presentation, Schneider proposes a new addition to “Situational Diagram” (SD), her most recent and ongoing body of work, first exhibited at the gallery’s flagship New York location on Madison Avenue in September 2016. The series aims to cover an A-Z lexicon, with an artistic operation corresponding to each letter. The 2016 presentation featured (A)malgamation, (C)ancellation, (E)xtraction, (M)onochroming, (N)aming, and (V)oid, among others. For the Focus presentation at the 2018 Armory Show, Schneider considers a new operation: (H)olding, carried out by works conceived as “marsupials.”
Marsupials are the group of animals commonly thought of as pouched mammals, like the wallaby and kangaroo. A marsupial in the context of SD is an “abstract machine” formed by a painting and a piece of ceramic. (H)olding is an open operation that can hypothetically admit many different forms for the artist’s “signature” monochrome black paintings to be activated. The paintings are encased by black ceramic pouches that have been folded by the artist’s hand in a variety of different shapes.
FORMAL QUALITIES OF SD
SD takes as its focal point a series of monochrome paintings conceived in reference to the artistic practices of Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko as they developed in the post-war period. Schneider’s monochromes are made with the Mars Black pigment, but they are mixed variously with four other colors, and blended with derivatives of petroleum and coal.
The production of ceramics has traditionally been functionally conceived and the objects that result have been proposed and used as vessels. In SD, the ceramics become the holding-frame of the paintings. Initially sculpted as 15-inch squares that are then folded, these ceramic vessels can shrink in the oven up to 15%. They propose a new form of (H)olding in the sense that the seemingly high modernist monochrome painting is now brought into an unlikely relationship with a different kind of production, which is traditionally steeped in the discourse of “craft.” This is however not surprising in the context of SD, which from its very beginning has positioned the black monochrome as engaging in an act of deconstruction of the ideology of the sublime, and art’s separation from the everyday. Craft has traditionally been thought of as feminine and categorized far away from abstract painting, the epitome of modernism. Now it is physically blended with, literally folded around, avatars of this mode of painting. Two things that are ideologically not supposed to be together are now inextricably combined.
There is something primal about the marsupials; the fact that their distinguishing feature is the receptacle form that has evolved to hold something else endows them with a sense of tactility, playfulness, open-endedness, formlessness, and mutability. There is no fixed form to each marsupial; they can hold other paintings than those initially assigned to them, and can even go as far as to hold another artist’s work.
SD is an exercise that detours from a politics of aesthetics associated with prevailing modes of authorship, viewership, and dissemination. Space can function as a political device, proposing a diagrammatic relationship between the artist, artwork, and audience. In this model, diverse forms of engagement can be activated in relation to the artistic use of materials, time, space, and the political, economic, and environmental exigencies of our time.