Sat 28 Oct 2023 to Sat 27 Jan 2024
Artist: Cildo Meireles
Galerie Lelong & Co., New York presents a new solo exhibition by Cildo Meireles, One and Some Chairs / Camouflages, the artist’s first show in New York in over eight years and his sixth solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition follows the artist’s recent award of the 2023 Roswitha Haftmann Prize, becoming the first Latin American artist to do so since its founding in 2001.
Presenting projects in installation and painting, One and Some Chairs / Camouflages is comprised entirely of works produced in the past two years and is the first exhibition in more than a decade to premiere an entirely new collection of work by Meireles. These projects, conceived in the 1980s and 1990s but only recently realized, revolve around the artist’s decades-long exploration of how perception and poetry relate to physical reality.
In the large gallery space, the installation One and Seven Chairs (1997-2023) begins with the structure of a simple kitchen chair, then reconfigures its presence in different materials: acrylic, sawdust, ash, and canvas. In one iteration of the chair, Meireles foregrounds the absence of the object, presenting an acrylic tower with an interior that reveals the emptiness of the chair itself. “I am interested in this evanescent thing, that is, a kind of dissolution of the object. There is a desire to play with the faculty of seeing through a sort of invisibility of invisibility,” says the artist of the enduring theme of emptiness throughout his practice. This installation and its title, a reference to longtime friend and peer Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs (1965), embrace the conceptual nature of abstract thought and its root in objects. As in all of Meireles’s installations, there is a quality of transformation, subtle humor, and wonder.
Camouflages continues this investigation of form and perception in the presentation of paintings, marking a return to the practice by Meireles in tribute to masters of the medium such as Jasper Johns, Kazimir Malevich, and the Brazilian modernist Alfredo Volpi. In works from this series, Meireles paints directly on objects, among them umbrellas, chairs, and tents. Meireles selects objects that are comprised of a common formal basis: a structure and fabric. The artist’s acrylic on canvas paintings substitute for these fabric components, mirroring their aesthetic conventions. In the words of the artist, the series “basically comprehends paintings on various chassis, which refer to a functionality. Camouflaged paint on benches, chairs, umbrellas, common objects for daily use.” Other paintings on view render the three-dimensional chair in two dimensions; two épuras draw upon descriptive geometry to present the chair from three vantage points across two perpendicular planes, conveying Meireles’s artistic thought through the joining of painting and mathematical rationality. This collection of works asks viewers to question “what is painting?” and “what is the truest representation of an object: the thing itself, or the idea of it?”