Casey Kaplan presents Weeds, an exhibition of new paintings and a site-specific installation by Sarah Crowner, marking the artist’s second solo show with the gallery.
For the exhibition, Crowner presents a suite of paintings staged above a curved, wooden platform, that mirrors the elemental, semi-circular shapes contained by her compositions. In a continued synthesis of form, production and process, each painting is comprised of individual segments of canvas that are cut, collaged and sewn back together. With this new series, Crowner draws from organic and botanical forms of nature — specifically the weeds that grow outside her studio, creep through the cracks of sidewalks, and otherwise colonize the industrial architecture around her neighborhood. To the artist, weeds can be thought of as a politicized and even feminist symbol, representative of a rebellious and resilient ethos. Weeds are contextually invasive and persist despite anthropogenic obstacles and attempts at eradication. This freedom and willfulness, as observed in nature uncultivated, became both a literal and metaphorical model for the work. From this inspiration, biomorphic shapes are drawn on canvas with a semi-circular template, rendered in saturated color tones, and arranged into spatial abstractions. These arrangements are stretched and unstretched, cut, sliced, and then sewn back together and stretched again – a laborious process that explores a perpetual array of compositional possibilities.
In a departure from previous works, the new paintings pair color against color, rather than incorporating white or raw canvas to stabilize the foreground. Each composition contains a nearly overwhelming tonal proximity, heightened by assertive and tactile brushwork. Dense colors vibrate and compete within the picture plane. Individual forms within each work are not only differentiated by color, but also by the visible seams that simultaneously bind and divide them. These sewn sutures further accentuate the paintings as physical, constructed objects, rather than flattened, two-dimensional images.
The canvases are presented in direct dialogue with the site-specific, curvilinear platform, which functions as both an extension of the gallery architecture and an expansion of the paintings’ formal investigations. Originally inspired by the concrete canopy of the 1952 Carlo Scarpa designed Sculpture Garden of the Italian Pavilion at the Giardini in Venice, Crowner reimagines a dense overhead object into lightweight, floor-bound plywood staging. The platform does not cover the entire gallery floor, but rather exists as cut-out shapes, creating negative and positive forms that mirror the paintings adjacent. Reciprocal curves and geometric edges encourage the viewer to navigate the gallery as if physically exploring the spatial compositions on the walls. Together, the paintings and installation function as an invitation for visitors to fully engage in a gesture of inclusivity, presence and immersive participation.
Sarah Crowner (b. 1974, Philadelphia) lives and works in New York. In 2017 her work was the subject of a site-specific installation at the Wright Restaurant, commissioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Recent solo exhibitions include: “Beetle in the Leaves,” MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2016); “ Plastic Memory,” Simon Lee, London (2016); “ Tutsi Baskets,” Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm (2016); “Everywhere the Line is Looser,” Casey Kaplan, New York (2015); “Interiores,” Travesia Cuatro, Guadalajara, Mexico (2014) and “Motifs,” Galerie Catherine Bastide, Brussels, Belgium (2014). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2017); Jewish Museum, New York (2016); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2014); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013); WIELS, Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2013); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2013); Zacheta National Museum of Art, Warsaw (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); and the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Crowner’s work is held in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.