“Deeply poignant, these works slowly unfurl a rich iconography resonating with the idea of site. …It is…a lavishing of attention, a marshaling of energies proper to the depiction of psychically charged spaces.” (Stephen Maine, Art In America)
Sharon Horvath’s first solo exhibition at Pierogi is a hybrid: paintings exhibited together with elements and objects from the artist’s studio reconfigured in the gallery setting.
Horvath’s recent paintings, including a large green and black canvas titled “Out There Or In Here,” reveal her exuberant, uncanny mind/landscapes that simultaneously suggest realities and invented worlds. Her canvas and paper surfaces act as metaphor for portals into both microcosm and macrocosm: a universe that considers our place in the environment. Her paintings and sculptures act as artifacts of accumulated environments. “Dune Life,” a large-scale painting and collage on paper, includes 45rpm singles affixed to the upper corners, serving as hanging devices. Exhibiting the paintings amongst the studio objects, rather than in a pristine gallery white box, creates a liminal, in between space that alters their status.
Phrases that come up when Horvath talks about her work include composites such as, “Neo dada folk art” and “the emotional language of objects.”
“Studio Objects” refers to a group of containers—dishes, bowls, Tupperware—tools and implements used for painting that have been altered and encrusted with an accumulation of objects from the artist’s past, while remaining recognizable as store bought kitchenware. A beat-up plastic tub might come to resemble a miniature Hindu temple, as a daydream of India might be cast, like the gaze of the artist into the tub, during the ritual of mixing paint.
Quoting Barry Schwabsky (quoting St. Augustine’s Confessions) on Horvath’s work, “’What I measure is the impression which passing phenomena leave in you,’” “’…which abides after they have passed by. . . ‘”
Horvath uses cut glassware, found objects, and other studio implements as molds for leftover paint. The paint dries and is imprinted with the texture of the mold, is peeled away and becomes a separate thing made only of paint. These casts of pigment and polymer may find their way onto paintings or into chance juxtapositions on studio worktables or flat file drawers to be lost and unearthed months or years later. Recent and early drawings, photographs, newspaper clippings and memorabilia from the artist’s childhood among a family of artists comprise the “ecosystem” of the studio. Horvath notes that she would not go out and buy these objects. If she uses beads it is because they are from her mother’s jewelry box. Deployed newspaper clippings and photos come from her deceased father’s collection from Life Magazine, which he used as reference material in his work as an illustrator. There is an old family photo of her sister with a horse, another of the artist as a small child standing amongst lambs. Each item is imbued with meaning personal to Horvath.
The installation of studio objects in the gallery is a fresh reconfiguration of these juxtapositions, creating new sets of relationships. These curious material traces and by-products of studio work show the moving parts of the artist’s thought process. The unfixed fluidity of these rearrangements is an embodiment, an attempt to capture the volatility of memory and time. The studio is that place where new forms take shape. The artist’s studio might be a model for the meaning we each create in our lifetimes through the objects that we endow with significance. In the studio, objects—made, found, inherited or bought—accumulate and co-mingle to create a special resonance: the secret lives of objects.
Horvath grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to NYC when she was 17. There she received her BFA from Cooper Union, then an MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia and Rome, and also attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Horvath’s awards include a Fulbright Research Fellowship to India, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rome Prize, an Anonymous was a Woman Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Painting, two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants, and a Prize for Painting from the National Academy Museum. Horvath is an Academician of the National Academy Museum and Professor of Art in Painting and Drawing at Purchase College, SUNY. Her work is included in the collections of the Arkansas Art Center (AR), the Cleveland Museum of Art (OH), the Frost Art Museum (FL), the National Academy of Design Museum (NY), and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UT).
The artist wishes to thank Purchase College for a 2018 Faculty Support Award and the MacDowell Colony for a Fellowship in 2019.