Kukje Gallery presents the exhibition of Roni Horn’s Remembered Words. Installed in K3, this is the artist’s fourth show at the gallery and marks the first time over the artist’s career to focus specifically on this series. Created in 2012-2013, Remembered Words consists of discrete sets of drawings, representing a major body of work by the internationally celebrated artist.
For Horn, drawing is a vital part of her practice that she returns to again and again, allowing her to examine themes of language and identity alongside the poetics of juxtaposition, punning, and materiality. This interest in word play and the slippery correspondences between meaning and memory inform Remembered Words, which as a full group of works lining the gallery walls, creates an almost infinitely complex and open-ended cultural lexicon.
Each of the individual works is a composite of nine parts arranged in a 3×3 grid of framed drawings. Each individual drawing is 15 x 11 inches and contains hand-painted circles in watercolor. These circles are either presented in a grid-like pattern with words written beneath them or appear in disorderly clusters with words jumping in and out in a more rhythmical manner. Resembling something like a scientific taxonomy or a display of forensic clues, these ordered constellations of circles and notations loosely correspond to their title and each other, building in correlations that are at once logical and mind-boggling. So, for example, in Remembered Words—(The Supremes) we get from left to right: rebus, sissy, humpback, bogus, and unface amongst 270 other words jostling for attention. Likewise in Remembered Words—(Ho Ho Ho) we wrestle and cavort with soapy, lavender, walk, malt, pollute, hallucinogen, and so on, with words pinging from frame to frame and across the room. In this way, the artist and audience mutually share their own unique stream of consciousness visually through the title, colors, and words in each set.
In addition to Horn’s uncanny vocabulary, she groups each work loosely within a color spectrum, allowing the palette to organize another register of meaning. Some of these colorful clusters of spheres look like lunar observations on a cloudy night, others swatches of the jungle or a mysterious rash. There are grids of meticulous color coordinated circles, and others are more like blobs or hastily charted directions, bleeding into one another. The spaces between the repeated forms and the way they sometimes touch highlight her highly specific use of color and choice of water-based medium: siennas and greens, yellows, grays, blacks and blues, and blood red, gradations ranging from a dense opacity to dilute hues.
Evoking the experimental syntax of Gertrude Stein’s poetry and what the British art historian Briony Fer calls “micro-poetics of small convergences,” Horn’s Remembered Words act as triggers. In this way Remembered Words powerfully links to other bodies of work for which Horn is celebrated. In particular, her drawings utilize meticulous cut-and-paste methods to reengineer meaning as exemplified by her series Hack Wits and the beguiling pools of color the artist captures in her cast glass sculptures. In both, the instability of the subject is foregrounded, evoking the vagaries of weather and the subtle contingencies of each individual thing, what Fer suggests, referring to Remembered Words, is their “own version of turbulence.”
About the Artist
Roni Horn was born in 1955 in New York. She has studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (BA) and Yale University (MFA). Since the mid-1970s Roni Horn has produced sculpture, photography, drawings, and books, stretching the definition of each genre. Her works are grounded in a practice of incisive philosophical inquiry and material study that explores nature, identity, and duality. Horn’s broad oeuvre consistently challenges identity politics by dissecting and juxtaposing images and texts with objects, creating deeply resonant dialogues between the different mediums. By focusing on highly mutable subjects, Horn has consistently explored human perception and the visual experience of our changing natural environments. By capturing the continuous flux inherent in water, light, and weather, for example, the artist is able to crystallize her broader interests in the relationships between places and things. By grouping portraiture with objects and drawing, Horn reveals the complex relationship between the viewer, her work, and the dichotomy between the moment of visual perception and the lingering effects of one’s memory.
Widely exhibited around the world, Roni Horn’s works can be found in the collections of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection, Kunstmuseum Basel, and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul. Among Horn’s many major museum exhibitions, recent surveys include Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2016); the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, and La Caixa Forum, Madrid (2014); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2013-4); Hamburger Kunsthalle (2011); the Art Institute of Chicago (2004); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2003); DIA Center for the Arts, New York (2001); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2000). In 2009 Horn was the subject of a major retrospective Roni Horn aka Roni Horn at Tate Modern in London that traveled to the Collection Lambert, Avignon, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.