Yancey Richardson is pleased to announce Paperbacks, the first solo exhibition in the gallery for American artist Mary Ellen Bartley. The exhibition features a selection of ten photographic works from the artist’s on-going series, Paperbacks.
Utilizing the materiality of paperback books, Bartley’s spare, minimalist compositions quietly oscillate between abstraction, sculptural assemblage, and color field study. The soft light and muted palette of the photographs recall and are homage to the still-life paintings of Giorgio Morandi. And like Morandi’s demure bottle still-lifes, the subtle shifting tones of Bartley’s book compositions are imbued with a hushed tranquility. In these compositions, the books are symbols untethered from their signifiers, reimagined as sequenced variations within a tonal poem. The careful calibration of light, shadow, and depth of focus further decontextualize the objects, pushing the compositions closer to abstraction.
As the artist describes: “This series is about muting – pressing a mute button and creating a quiet, circumscribed project. I work with books, containers, and symbols of stories, information, knowledge, and meaning, but I deliberately hide any clues to the books’ contents, rendering them anonymous and wordless…The calm palette [of] fog grays and tooth colored whites further tranquillizes the clamor of narratives, characters, and action that must be contained within their pages.”
Mary Ellen Bartley was born in the Bronx and received a BFA from SUNY Purchase. She currently lives and works in Wainscott, New York. Her work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally, including the Parrish Art Museum, NY, the Center for Photographic Arts, Carmel, CA, The Drawing Room, NY, and Fototropia Gallery, Guatemala City, Guatemala, among others. Her first solo museum exhibition will open fall of 2014 at the Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, New York.