Marianne Boesky presents artist Anthony Pearson’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery, which features a selection of new wall works from his Embedment series and highlight his ongoing exploration and mastery of the compositional and textural possibilities of poured gypsum cement.
Created through a methodical and physical engagement with the material, the resultant works occupy a liminal space between painting and sculpture.
The Embedment series marks a new shift in Pearson’s experimentation with hydrocal—a gypsum cement that he infuses with pigments—which he first began using in 2011. For this series, he stretches a segment of fabric within a mold and then pours the liquid cement, which he has variously colored, atop the fabric, layering, shifting, and allowing it to coalesce organically within the confines of the supports. Once the material sets, Pearson removes the hardened cement from the frame and pulls the canvas from its face, which leaves intricate patterned impressions and traces of fiber filament on the surface plane. In this way the skin and body of the work are created concurrently, as the fields of color weave together into abstract landscapes, where suggestions of sunsets and desert views dissipate as quickly as they emerge. Made in reverse, with the front of the work facing downward in the frame, the process embodies Pearson’s deep knowledge of the material, integrating his original vision for each work with the naturally arising effects.
This series—which also represents the first substantial introduction of color into Pearson’s practice since he completed his Color Reflection series in 2010—expands on the visual vocabularies that Pearson established in his earlier series: Plaster Positive, in which the pooling and layering of the hydrocal produced dynamic tonal variations, and Etched Plasters, in which the smooth surface plane of the hydrocal is scored to create networks of lines, grids, and radiant forms that draw light and depth into the work. With each material manipulation, the surface becomes a space to reimagine, alter, and meld the boundaries between and formal occupations of different artistic genres. Questions of perception, light, and physicality merge, resulting in objects that elude easy categorization.
The new Embedments, much like the earlier works, actively disengage with our information-fueled culture. Instead, Pearson emphasizes a deep intellectual and physical engagement with a few materials, exploring the behaviors, reactions, and open possibilities of his limited scope of media. In this way, his practice is meditative, labor-intensive, and gives primacy to the artist’s individual hand. His clear and intentional approach is evident in the experience of the work, which draws in the light and responds to the ambient environment in which it is presented, creating a distinct sensation of place. At once subtle and complex, the quietude of Pearson’s work feels utterly disruptive in our frenzied world—where a moment of respite and contemplation feels at once foreign and welcome. Here, the pleasure of the work is in looking closely and opening oneself up to the power of the experience of the moment.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)