Roy DeCarava Light Break at David Zwirner, NYC

Roy DeCarava Light Break at David Zwirner, NYC

Roy DeCarava: the sound i saw

September 5—October 26, 2019

David Zwirner, NYC

David Zwirner present concurrent exhibitions of photographs by Roy DeCarava at two of its New York gallery locations: 533 West 19th Street and 34 East 69th Street. Curated by art historian Sherry Turner DeCarava, this will be the gallery’s first presentation since announcing exclusive representation of the Estate of Roy DeCarava in 2018, and the first opportunity to view a major grouping of the artist’s work in New York since his 1996 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. 

Roy DeCarava, Curved branch, 1994 (detail)

Over the course of six decades, DeCarava produced a singular collection of black-and-white photographs that combines formal acuity with an intimate and deeply human treatment of his subjects. His pioneering work privileged the aesthetic qualities of the medium, providing a counterpoint to the prevailing view of photography as mere chronicle or document and helping it to gain acceptance as an art form in its own right.

Having trained as a painter and draftsman, DeCarava began working with the camera in the mid-1940s, seeking an inclusive artistic statement for the culturally diverse uptown Manhattan neighborhood of his Harlem youth. Working without assistants and rejecting standard techniques of photographic manipulation, DeCarava honed his printing technique to produce rich tonal gradations, enabling him to explore a full spectrum of light and dark gray values more akin to a painterly mode of expression. Relying on ambient light and a point of view that neither monumentalizes nor sentimentalizes his subjects, he was able to produce a highly original oeuvre that carries significant visual and emotional meaning.

 On view at the gallery uptown will be a selection of photographs from the sound i saw, DeCarava’s unwavering exploration of the relationship between the visual and the aural. Created between the mid-1940s and 1960 and first assembled as an artist book, it has never before been exhibited in its original form. This work delivers musicians, those known and unknown, including Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and others in their milieu, into a sound and a sense rarely seen in visual arts. These figures are glimpsed both mid-set and off-stage in moments of repose, emphasizing their status not as musical icons, but as people deeply engaged in the everyday process of living.

Presented in Chelsea, Light Break features a dynamic survey and range of images that underscores DeCarava’s subtle mastery of tonal and spatial elements across a wide array of subject matter. Spanning the years 1948 to 2006, the photographs in the exhibition—including a number of images that have never been seen before—provide an introduction to the artist’s singular vision, particularly his ability to see with great sensitivity into people and to find a complexity of relationships that coincide with our lives. 

Wang Yan Cheng at Acquavella, NYC

Wang Yan Cheng at Acquavella, NYC

Wang Yan Cheng


Acquavella Galleries, NYC

Acquavella Galleries presents the first exhibition of works by Wang Yan Cheng, from September 11 – October 18, 2019. This exhibition of new work, featuring 20 paintings from this year, is the artist’s first solo presentation in the United States.

Since his early training as a representational artist, Wang Yan Cheng has developed a deep understanding of painting in terms of structure, color and technique. In recent years he has frequently gone beyond the “abstract.” He hopes to merge Eastern and Western aesthetic development, to guide people away from traditional concepts, and to feel the artist’s love for creation. Wang Yan Cheng’s foundation is never a pure canvas in the metaphoric sense. He has reached beyond the canvas with various methods to make the works “immersed and cultivated.” Using his ideas, he is able to exercise artistic control over his medium; his paintings thus inhabit a wonderful place between inevitability and chance and achieve “imperfect perfection.”  

Wang Yan Cheng Untitled (Triptych), 2019 Oil on canvas in three panels 82 5/8 x 307 inches (210 x 780 cm)

Born in 1960, after graduating from Shandong University of Arts, Wang Yan Cheng went to Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing to complete his academic art education in China. Later in 1989 he traveled to France and studied at Jean Monnet University (Saint-Étienne), where he was able to broaden and expand his creative vision of art. In the past 30 years, Wang Yan Cheng has traveled from the East to the West and has returned from the West to the East. Over time, he has found a profound affinity between Oriental philosophy and Western science and pushed his paintings to engage micro and macro themes. 

Wang Yan Cheng Untitled, 2019 Oil on canvas 45 5/8 x 35 inches (116 x 89 cm)

In the 20th century, Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki introduced Eastern aesthetic concepts into Western abstract painting working in the form of lyrical abstraction. Following in the tradition of established lyrical abstractionists Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun, both of whom are recognized internationally, Wang Yan Cheng approaches painting with a different texture, language and visual energy than his two predecessors. In his paintings, Wang Yan Cheng elevates the image to the level of microcosmic vision, using energy, detailed texture and traditional culture to create his unique artistic language. Continuing in the traditional of lyrical abstraction, Wang Yan Cheng builds a majestic momentum from the shapes and colors, drawing on an atmospheric flow that comes from his soul. Each composition follows traditional Chinese cosmology to explore the mysterious driving force of the origin of the universe. The artist departs from the restraints of techniques and concepts, embracing instead the power of spirit and the experience of love. Thus, Wang Yan Cheng’s paintings form “a cosmic rhythm that embodies the spirit of the Oriental and Taoist philosophy, that open a universe, in bigger and bigger collisions.” (quote by art critic Jia Fangzhou). 

Wang Yan Cheng Untitled, 2019 Oil on canvas 102 x 82 5/8 inches (260 x 210 cm)

Today, Wang Yan Cheng maintains studios in Paris and Beijing. Major solo museum exhibitions have been held at the Guangdong Museum of Art (2000) and Musée de Montparnasse, Paris (2010). In 2014, the National Museum of History in Taipei mounted an extensive retrospective of the artist. Wang Yan Cheng was also selected to participate in the Shanghai Museum of Art Biennial (2002), the French Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo (2010), and the Chinese Pavilion at the Milan International Expo (2015).  Over the past 20 years, he has won the honor of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the Legion of Honour and the Commander Medal of French Arts and Literature. He is the first Chinese artist to have won three medals of honor from the French government.  

Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla at Sean Kelly Gallery, NYC

Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla at Sean Kelly Gallery, NYC

Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla 


Sean Kelly, NYC

Sean Kelly presents Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla, the first comprehensive exhibition ever mounted in the United States devoted to the work of this pioneering Cuban artist. Dolores “Loló” Soldevilla (1901- 1971) was one of the only women to be prominently associated with the development of geometric abstraction in Cuba, and one of the key figures responsible for promoting its development from the 1950s onward. Featuring over 60 artworks, including painting, sculpture, works on paper and constructions, as well as rare historical documents, photographs and personal ephemera, this wide-ranging survey will examine the breadth of Loló’s entire career. Concurrent to the exhibition, a fully-illustrated monograph featuring essays by Rafael DiazCasas and Olga Viso will be published, the first book devoted solely to Loló’s life and work. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, September 5, 6-8pm.w

Loló Soldevilla Paisaje Estelar, 1959

Loló Soldevilla was a passionate, largely self-taught artist whose career blossomed in the 1950s. A self-styled impresario and autodidact, she was a formidable artistic talent and an astute cultural promoter. Following earlier professional turns as a musician, political activist and party politician in Cuba, Loló was appointed the country’s cultural attaché to Europe in 1949. Residing in Paris, she began studying in the ateliers of prominent European artists. Although she did not take up painting and sculpture until her late-forties, she quickly gained command of her métier and was soon exhibiting her work in Parisian galleries and Salons transitioning from figuration to abstraction. By 1950, Loló was producing abstract paintings and sculptures inspired by geometric forms. In the ensuing years, Soldevilla developed her groundbreaking Color Luz theory that opened pathways to her Reliefs Lumineux, unique constructions that incorporated light as a working element in abstract designs, which premiered in Paris at the 1955 Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. Her paintings, collages and panel constructions explored the dynamics of light, shadow and relief, suggesting movement and rhythm through the use of geometric pattern and color.   

After returning to Havana in 1956, Loló played an active role as an artist, curator, and gallery owner. A fierce advocate for social justice, women’s rights and the working class in the 1930-40s, she began championing abstraction through ambitious international projects, gaining attention for her voice within the island’s abstractionist landscape and serving as a vital link between Cuba, Europe and Latin America. She organized the important exhibition Pintura de hoy: Vanguardia de la Escuela de Paris (Painting Today: The Avant-Garde of the School of Paris) at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Havana, which featured the work of forty-six leading Hard-Edge, Op and Kinetic artists, including Jean Arp, Sonia Delaunay and Jesús Rafael Soto, amongst others. This pivotal exhibition introduced Cuban audiences to international abstract art for the first time.

In October 1957, Soldevilla along with fellow artist Pedro de Oraá founded the Galería de Arte Color Luz, a venue instrumental in fostering the development of abstract art in Cuba and solidifying the presence of the concrete art movement on the island. The gallery served as the incubator for a group of artists who would name themselves “10 Pintores Concretos,” of which Loló was the sole female member, its most public face, and strongest force. As Castro’s revolution began to transform Cuban culture, abstraction, though never explicitly censored, was deemed “obsolete” and “out of touch with the new society.” Although Loló’s activities around the visual arts diminished, she stayed active establishing a new association, Grupo Espacio, and continued to paint and exhibit her work until her death in 1971. Sean Kelly states, “we are delighted to have organized Loló Soldevilla’s first retrospective survey in the U.S. and the first outside of Cuba. This exhibition and the major monograph we have published position her as one of the strongest Latin American artistic voices in the years after World War II, as well as one of the first women to bring postwar abstraction to Latin America, firmly establishing her as a key figure in the development of abstraction in Cuba, Latin America and, indeed, the world.”




JUNE 15 – JULY 20, 2019

Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles

Charlie James Gallery presents In a Manner of Speaking, Gabriella Sanchez’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, opening Saturday, June 15th and running through July 20th, 2019. The show will present eight new paintings, four at large scale, all of which incorporate Gabriella’s demonstrated range of graphic media including acrylic, graphite, sharpie and oil stick, but which newly integrate archival pigment printing and photo collage onto the surface of the canvases. Gabriella’s work at its core explores the space between cultures – between the Mexican and the American, between the noble and ignoble, between the main and the margins. To give form to these threshold spaces, Gabriella creates composite portraits of people and of ideas of people, which are assembled using oppositional binaries expressed through language and in form. Gabriella employs repetition both to establish and to deconstruct her signifiers. Every painted figure has an oppositional printed counterpart, the images of which derive from Gabriella’s archive of family photographs. The photographs are exclusively of men, and those selected emphasize the physical poses struck by her male family members, poses that can evoke a stereotyped form of hyper-masculinity. As in past work, the paintings in this series contain language that can be interpreted multiple ways. Some of the words included are: Form/ From, SA LUTE, Suit(able), and Gabriella frequently contraposes the hegemonic Helvetica font with the Latinx-associated Gothic font. The style of the paintings evokes collage but is organized by a design sensibility, and thus suggests another dualism – that of design and fine art. The paintings undo the process by which meaning gets assigned – they disassemble the process into steps, component parts, making visible the mechanics of representation.

Suitable, Acrylic, oil stick, oil pastel, graphite and archival pigment prints on canvas, 72 x 48 inches, 2019

Gabriella Sanchez (b. 1988, Pasadena, CA) received her BFA in 2011 from PLNU in San Diego, CA. She worked for several years as a full time graphic designer, executing projects with Nike, Toyota and other significant clients. She began exhibiting her paintings and works on paper in 2016, and her work has been exhibited in spaces such as Jeffrey Deitch (New York), Charlie James Gallery (LA), Páramo Galeria (Guadalajara), the Crocker Art Museum, LMAK Gallery NYC, and ltdla. She has shown at numerous art fairs including Zona Maco, EXPO Chicago, and the Seattle Art Fair. Her work is in notable collections including the Crocker Art Museum, the JP Morgan & Chase Collection, and numerous private collections. Gabriella lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and is represented by Charlie James Gallery.

SPECIFIC ABSTRACTIONS at Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles

SPECIFIC ABSTRACTIONS at Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles


Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles

JUNE 15 – JULY 20, 2019

Charlie James Gallery presents Specific Abstractions, a group exhibition curated by Los Angeles-based arts writer Matt Stromberg featuring work by Tanya Aguiñiga, Rachid Bouhamidi, Leonardo Bravo, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, John Knuth, Dan Levenson, Rubén Ortiz Torres, and Brenna Youngblood. The show challenges the understanding of abstraction as a universal language, a “pure” exploration of form, color, and material. This premise was informed by the Guggenheim Museum show Josef Albers in Mexico which traces the connection between the modernist master’s geometric abstractions and his love of pre-Columbian art and architecture that he encountered while traveling throughout Mexico. “The Homage to the Square paintings are sometimes caricatured as the epitome of detached, cerebral art, a manifestation of a singular faith in geometry. Yet the works have also been connected to specific locations in Mexico,” writes curator Lauren Hinkson in her catalogue essay, arguing that they stem from Albers’s paintings of Mexican house facades. Specific Abstractions brings together eight contemporary artists who work in abstract and geometric modes, but whose paintings, textiles, and sculptures draw on a wide range of influences and references, representing a heterogeneous, tangled, and often witty rejoinder to the notion of abstraction’s aloof objectivity. Some of these artists like Tanya Aguiñiga, Leonardo Bravo, and Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia draw on traditional Latin American artforms and techniques, fusing them with strains of modernism and popular culture. Similarly, Rachid Bouhamidi incorporates Moroccan design motifs and imagery in his paintings, prints, and installations which serve as sites for tea ceremonies. Other artists like John Knuth, Dan Levenson, and Rubén Ortiz Torres interrogate the history of abstraction, contesting the genre’s associations with timelessness or spirituality. Brenna Youngblood offers a refutation of abstraction’s discreet purity, with hybrid objects that are unmistakably of this world.

Leonardo Bravo, Olmeca 4, acrylic on birch panel, 16 x 16 inches, 2019

Matt Stromberg is a freelance arts writer based in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles (CARLA), the Guardian, Hyperallergic, Artnet, KCET Artbound, Artsy, Frieze, Terremoto, and Daily Serving

AUGUSTUS THOMPSON, Our Unity is a Business / Praz-Delavallade, Los Angeles

AUGUSTUS THOMPSON, Our Unity is a Business / Praz-Delavallade, Los Angeles

AUGUSTUS THOMPSON, Our Unity is a Business
18 May – 6 July 2019
Praz-Delavallade, LA

Praz-Delavallade announces Our Unity is a Business, Augustus Thompson’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Thompson’s diverse practice includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, painting and sound. For this exhibition he returns to oil paintings and works on paper made over the course of the last three years, during which he travelled considerably, spending time in Budapest, Germany, Spain and Belgium.

Oscillating between representations of interior spaces and voyeuristic imagery, in Our Unity is a Business Thompson enters into ideas about death, cultural histories, commerce, language, matrimony, sleep, car rides and ultimately, time. Multiple points of view hover together in a single picture, while elements from one painting may appear in another. Seen together, with their reduced palette and depictions of visceral moments, his works appear cognizant of their temporal conditions.

Augustus Thompson (born 1985, Richlands, Virginia) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. His work has been exhibited internationally at the Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK and Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano A Mare, IT. He has had solo exhibitions with Almine Rech, London UK; Night Gallery, Los Angeles, US; Lock Up International, Los Angeles, US; and White Cube, London, UK amongst others. In 2017 he was a resident at the House Van Wassenhove, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Sint-Martens-Latem, BE.

All images > Exhibition View @ Praz-Delavallade, LA / Documentation: Marten Elder

Liz Larner As Below, So Above / Regen Projects, LA

Liz Larner As Below, So Above / Regen Projects, LA

Liz Larner
As Below, So Above
May 17 – June 22, 2019
Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Regen Projects announces As Below, So Above, the seventh solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Liz Larner. On view will be a selection of new works that demonstrate her ongoing examination into sculpture, painting, drawing, and ceramics. The environment – the personal and the entrenched – are set together in these artworks that reach for an understanding of vulnerability through what is and has been considered low and directed, made capital of, and endangered.

Illusion and reality are intricately intertwined in Larner’s work. At first glance Firestoneappears as a large enigmatic composition of stone placed in the center of the gallery. Upon closer inspection the corporeal structure of the three dimensional form reveals its construction through numerous ceramic pieces in the shape of tessellated hematite crystals. Referencing the art historical trope of the Odalisque, this is an eco-feminist interpretation of the supine figure and the hexagonal crystal always found with iron.  Larner’s interest in fragility and nature in the anthropocene is further manifest in Reef, an open ended, cay-shaped large format sculpture that snakes along the gallery floor. Free formed around and with deposits of stone and mineral, the work appears to float just above or slightly below the surface of the imaginary water that surrounds it. The illusory perception of its totality engages the viewer to circumambulate its contours and navigate the constantly shifting movements of light and color imbued on its craggy surfaces. Completing the axiological triad of low lying sculptures in this exhibition are a group of multi-scaled anthropomorphic floor works, Animal Vegetable, spreading out and over like a herd.

Hovering on opposing walls, two seemingly identical ceramic works both titled Horizon, feature bold swathes of blue glaze separating telluric registers from their empyrean skycapes. A wall mounted ceramic slab sculpture provides a recent example of an ongoing series that considers the poetic qualities of geological formations. The palette of its richly polychromatic surface is achieved through the application of epoxy mixed with pigment and arrived at in reference to a Pierre Bonnard self-portrait from 1889. Environmental factors implicit in the construction of the piece determine its final material state, and are physically rendered in the work, resulting in fissures, ruptures, and breaks along its textured expanse. Further references to cultural history appear in a graphite drawing on paper of two women reclining on opposing armchairs, depicting a domestic interior scene from Marguerite Duras’s film Nathalie Granger (1972). While another ceramic wall work Volitant Solids’ color and form reference a graphic from Michelangelo Antonioni’s first color film Red Desert(1964), set during the rapid industrialization of post war Italy.

All images > Installation view of Liz Larner As Below, So Above Regen Projects, Los Angeles, May 17 – June 22, 2019

David Novros at Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC

David Novros at Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC

David Novros
MAY 11 – JUNE 15, 2019
Paula Cooper Gallery 

An exhibition of work by David Novros will open at Paula Cooper Gallery on May 11th, 2019, highlighting the breadth of his artistic production. In addition to several large-scale multipartite canvases—for which the artist is most well-known — the show will explore Novros’s expansive and prolific approach to painting across a range of material and scale. Included will be painted works of copper, iron, and ceramic as well as watercolors. The show will open with a reception from 6 to 8 pm on Saturday, May 11th and remain on view through June 15th at 524 West 26th Street. Novros creates work that pushes beyond its internal pictorial space to generate a dynamic, kinesthetic experience. Inspired by Italian frescoes, Byzantine mosaics, Paleolithic cave paintings, and other in situ artworks, his surfaces are not intended to hold the eye but rather to promote movement with a painted place. The artist explains: “I am trying to identify the poetic reality of the paintings. I don’t have any particular system. Sometimes I paint one area of a painting for years—trying to find the ‘right’ light. I keep working until the painting gives me permission to move on.”1

In Boathouse, 2016, a work first commissioned as a painted place, Novros employs an iterative motif of borders and right angles—both within the painted composition of each canvas as well as in their collective arrangement on the wall. Enhanced by the use of subtle tonal shifts or, alternately, bold complementary colors, the work is at once placid and buoyant. Though the artist’s technique first appears simple, on close examination its rich variation of brushwork and hue builds an elusive yet almost tangible layered depth. For his recent work K (2017), Novros pushes this further by once again using iridescent Murano paint and oil to achieve a luminous and radiant surface. Beyond the canvas works, a selection of watercolors, painted Coppers, and ceramic objects explore a wide vocabulary of materials and forms. Created in the 1980s in New Mexico, Novros’s copper works are made by exploding a line charge to generate projections in the metal. The works recall Novros’s interest in Byzantine and Paleo-Christian art and reflect his fascination with the process of their creation. Novros’s porcelain and plaster Solar Model envisions an architectural shelter to house a mural cycle. Evocative of an atrium-style Roman house, the object relates to two new monumental canvas works, also on view, which are based on imagined views of the model’s painted interior. Made in 1975, Portable Cave recalls the artist’s acclaimed portable murals, which he began in 1965 as a way to expand his interest in painting-in-place. The work’s earthy tones and recessed space absorbs ambient light.

David Novros was born in 1941 in Los Angeles, CA, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California in 1963. His work was first exhibited in a two-person show with Mark di Suvero in 1965 at the Park Place Gallery in New York. Novros had his first one-person shows at Park Place Gallery and Dwan Gallery the following year. His work has been exhibited in prominent venues, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Dallas; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Novros was the subject of a one-person show, Contemporary Conversations: David Novros and The Menil Collection, in 2006. The show was part of a series of exhibitions that continues to celebrate living artists whose works are in the Menil’s permanent collection. The Museum Wiesbaden (Germany), presented a one-person exhibit of Novros’ work in 2013 and permanently installed his monumental piece, Salidas (2012-2016) in 2017. The artist currently lives and works in New York City.

  1. Phong Bui, “In Conversation: David Novros with Phong Bui,” The Brooklyn Rail, June 7, 2008.

All images courtesy © Paula Cooper Gallery



Mignoni Gallery, NYC
May 22 – August 17, 2019

Mignoni presents Frank Stella: Polish Village Sketches, 1970 – 1974. This is the first exhibition ever to focus solely on the sketches from Stella’s Polish Village series, as well as the first time a large group of these masterful collages is shown together. Notable works from a handful of private collections and the Mead Museum at Amherst College have been generously loaned for the occasion. Frank Stella’s relationship with Polish villages was born from Maria and Kasimierz Pietchotka’s book Wooden Synagogues (1959), a gift from his friend Richard Meier in 1970. The book captivated Stella, leading him to produce some 50 sketches in just a few months. Hot on the heels of Stella’s landmark retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (1970), the Polish Village series marked a transition in his practice from flat picture planes to built objects and layered surfaces. Many of the Polish Village works were exhibited almost immediately upon completion, in 1971 between Lawrence Rubin Gallery, New York, and Kasmin Limited, London; in 1973 at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York; and in 1974 at Knoedler’s.

Stella’s Polish Village series is experimental in terms of both form and technique, superseding the format of flat collages and paintings with wall reliefs. The four-year process of developing this series pushed Stella to abandon conventional materials, instead working with various media of increasingly diverse textures. Stella’s goal was to “construct a painting” that transcended the limitations of two-dimensional space, which ultimately lead him to three-dimensional work. Stella also produced three – and occasionally four – variations of each work, with the earliest compositions constructed as two-dimensional collages and later versions containing deeper relief elements projecting into space. Stella’s Polish Village reliefs were most recently featured in the landmark exhibition Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and while his paintings have been the focus of several shows in recent years, this presentation instead brings attention to Stella’s beautifully constructed sketch-collages that are formal blueprints for his seminal paintings. Each Sketch was constructed using canvas, felt, paint, and Masonite; the exact materials used in the construction of the paintings as well. These works embody Stella’s continual pushing of his own practice and of collective definitions of painting into a spatial realm.

VALENTIN CARRON Sing Loud And Walk Fast, 303 Gallery, NYC

VALENTIN CARRON Sing Loud And Walk Fast, 303 Gallery, NYC

Sing Loud And Walk Fast
May 31 – July 12, 2019
303 Gallery, NYC

303 Gallery announces the fourth exhibition of new work by Valentin Carron. For all its promise of liberation from the gilded structures of exaltation surrounding the objet d’art, the readymade has become deflated by its own pressure. Found objects, assemblage and appropriation have been cunningly adopted and integrated into the mechanisms of taste, robbed of their subversive function and aestheticized into a polite paradigm. In a series of nine new collages upending these platitudes, Valentin Carron locates within his own psychology the entry points for the subconscious material of identity and freezes them, allowing for unexpected and arbitrary recombination that short-circuits accepted modes of explication.

Valentin Carron Installation view 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale de Venezia, Swiss Pavilion June 1 – November 24, 2013

Carron’s scavenging instinct finds him adopting scenery from his daily travails and reframing it through parallel planes of focus to suit his own form of sensory-heightening interpretation. “The Big Modern Concert” uses a stock image of a multitude of hands reaching for the sky as its starting point, originally found on an announcement board outside a church near Carron’s home in Switzerland. Meant to symbolize a type of everlasting hope through association and devotion, the hands as propaganda are a signifier for the kind of generic, technocratic pluralism that has become shorthand for the concept of community. A vision of hope and aspiration tempered by inherent desolation, Carron’s laser cut MDF adaptation is glued directly onto a vermillion color field – a stand-in for itself, as if the function of an image could be simultaneously undermined and reified.  “One-Eyed In The Beaded Night” operates from a similar strategy, an example of decorative contact lenses from a window advertisement of a novelty shop. A combination of fantasy, personality and projection determines the utility of these lenses, a quick tint job on the windows to the soul.

Valentin Carron Signal crème mai 2018 Aluminum, glaze-paint 25 1:4 x 23 5:8 x 15 3:4 inches (64 x 60 x 40 cm) VC 262

Ontology dictates the difference between a person and a thing, if you insist. Carron’s version of self-portraiture is aware of this implicit fallacy, an attempt to inscribe authorship and subjecthood into autonomous units. In “Wall Tile and Chromo”, a circa-Y2K Carron is posing for Nan Goldin after a workshop she was giving at the Lausanne School of Art. She had shown him the photos and asked to publish them, which he declined. Carron finally finds a use for one, placing it at the center of a typical bistro wall tile, looking tinted by Goldin’s characteristic red light gels. Carron is in Tommy Hilfiger boxers with an American flag print, an iconography so pure it could only be made up – by whom is unimportant. “The American Cap” is again a portrait without author, but also without a face. The floating cap was purchased at K-Mart, the crown on a mass produced identity that at one point represented personal expression but was swallowed whole by a marketing monolith. That it has been regurgitated as a transgressive choice through Normcore aesthetics is a further bruise on its potential. “The Lido Tower” is continental bad taste compounding itself, a painted replica of the flashy red marble at the entrance of Trump Tower, overlaid with a paper imitation of an art deco mirror at the Bar Le Lido in the Alpine town of Sion. A floor to ceiling stack of apple crates poorly spray-painted black stands by imposingly, sleek American minimalism undermined by agricultural necessity and the hilarious pathos of emptiness. In “Nine Drops Of Blood”, the reckoning of all these identity politics and the specter of America’s cultural legacy is seen through the ritualistic scarification of teen angst, straight onto one of Carron’s signature clocks, the closest he comes to a personal brand.

Installation view Valentin Carron Pergola- Monsieur Palais de Tokyo, Paris February 19 – May 16, 2010 Photo- André Morin

Valentin Carron was born 1977 in Martigny, Switzerland, where he lives and works. Recent solo exhibitions include “Deux épaisseurs un coin”, Centre d’edition contemporaine, Genève (2016); Kunstverein Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany (2015); Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2010); Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland (2007). Recent group exhibitions include “La velocità delle immagini”, Istituto Svizzero di Rome, Rome, Italy (2016); Wanderlust, High Line, New York, USA (2016); Valentin Carron (curatorial), Swiss Institute, New York, USA (2015); “Champs Elysées”, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2013); “Alone together”, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA (2012). In 2013, Carron represented Switzerland at the 55th Biennial of Venice.


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