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52 Walker St, 2nd Floor, NY 10013, New York, United States
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm


Josiah McElheny: Geometries for an Imagined Future

James Cohan, 52 Walker St, New York

Artist: Josiah McElheny

Opening reception: Thursday 2 November, 6pm-8pm

James Cohan presents Geometries for an Imagined Future, an exhibition of new work by Josiah McElheny. This is McElheny’s third solo exhibition with James Cohan.

For over three decades McElheny has engaged in an expert and in-depth study of glassmaking techniques, using this knowledge to create sculptural assemblages, paintings and multi-media installations that propose expanded views of history, from the scientific to the art historical. He looks to the histories of art, architecture, dance, music, fashion, film, literature and science, searching for ideas from the past that could point a way to the future. Most recently, McElheny has gravitated toward the story of mathematics, where proposals or methods might still be as radical today as they were hundreds of years ago.

Geometry has provided us tools for understanding the shapes and spatial relationships of individual objects, both in relation to one another and within the world at large. Historically, the greatest thinkers have attempted to find perfect shapes in the world – but have instead discovered irregularity, individuality, and diversity more often than sameness.

In Geometries for an Imagined Future, McElheny proposes that geometries, specifically ones of this irregularity, can serve as sociopolitical tools for finding answers to large questions. The multiplicities found in these complex forms elucidate a progressive idea, or shape, of the future, one that begets a much needed hopefulness.

This exhibition presents four bodies of work centered on an exploration of complex, irregular geometries embedded within innovative display methods. These works, which highlight the prismatic and refractive potentials of looking through and beyond the surface of solid glass, can be characterized as hybrids between painting and sculpture. With opaque, reflective and transparent surfaces, the artist obscures delineations between the expected or assumed dimensionalities of a flat painting, or a relief sculpture. This hybrid prompts the viewer to shift their gaze actively, so the artwork is constantly in conversation with the scale and engagement of the human body. The ever-changing vistas inherent in these works, morphing as the viewer moves around them, demonstrate that a hopeful future might be found within the ongoing potential to discover spaces and structures that are not invented, but simply to be found or rediscovered within nature.

all images © the gallery and the artist(s)

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