Peter Freeman, Inc. presents Lucy Skaer: Sentiment, the British artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery in New York.
Throughout her practice, in sculpture, print, and film, Skaer mines and manipulates preexisting imagery—from art, from history, and from her own oeuvre and personal history—transforming and destabilizing straightforward readings of the original source material and the resulting works. In this exhibition she explores the role of feeling, emotion and subjectivity in how we experience objects, images, or situations, despite degrees of abstraction or transmutation.
In La Chasse (2017), abstract sculptures—comprised of elements like ingots and lozenges, forms that Skaer has used in previous sculptures—are adapted to mimic sentient animals. In refiguring the forms as quarry, the subject that the sculpture depicts becomes both less legitimate and more sympathetic. The idea is based in part on miniature illuminations from the Le livre de chasse, a medieval transcript on Renaissance hunting techniques from 1331-1391. Those images of observation, capture and slaughter both create and satisfy desire: the hunted animals appear on the page as if they are already tasty morsels on a plate. Using the analogy of the hunt in sculpture, Skaer draws a parallel between creation and death, animate and inanimate, and legibility and abstraction. Each animal reads as a being, but is nearly unidentifiable save one small realistically-rendered body part or gesture that each bears.
Also on view is a new series of cast-bronze sculptures, abstract in form and hand-painted to represent the natural elements, rain, snow, and wind for example. Through these representations of fleeting states of weather, Skaer explores how and what can be embodied in form, she plays with how far into abstraction she can venture while leaving some semblance of the thing identifiable, and with that, the sentiment that one ascribes to it from their own experiences.
In works from an ongoing project she began in 2012, Skaer uses elements from her childhood home (where her father still resides) such as wooden floor boards, windows and doors and reconfigures them into boxes, cubes, or slabs, embellishing them with fine materials, replacing glass panes with lapis lazuli, and embedding objects from her father’s various collections of disperate objects. She is performing a displacement of memory – her old door is no longer a door and the new door is not the door of her memory. Sentiment in art would seem more concurrent with the year the house was built (c. 1825) than now; however, sentiment in its multiple definitions—as a subjective, deeply personal response, but also as an attachment to an idea that is believed to be true without positive knowledge—has a great deal of relevance in a post-truth era.
Lucy Skaer was born in Cambridge, England in 1975. She earned her degree at the Glasgow School of Art, and in recent years has developed a considerable international reputation. Recent solo exhibitions have been mounted at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2017-2018; travelled to Salzburger Kunstverein, 2018), Museo Tamayo, México City (2017), MRAC Serignan, France (2017), Musees Gallo Romains, Lyon (2016), Tramway, Glasgow (2013), Yale Union, Portland (2013), Kunsthalle Wien (2012), Kunsthalle Basel (2009), Chisenhale Gallery, London (2008) and Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2008). She has been included in numerous international group exhibitions at venues including Documenta 14 (2017) with Rosalind Nashsashibi, The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2013), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2013), Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2010), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2010), and K21 Düsseldorf (2010), Tate Britain (2009), the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008), and the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007).