Sculpture spills from its edge into the world in this very complex way that isn’t bound by the frame. In painting, the world spills into the frame, and sometimes we confuse that frame with the world.
Gagosian presents new works by Sarah Sze. This is her first solo exhibition in Paris since her presentation at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain more than two decades ago.
A genius bricoleur, Sze gleans objects and images from worlds both physical and digital, assembling them into complex multimedia installations that prompt microscopic observation while evoking a macroscopic perspective on the infinite. In recent years she has returned to painting—the medium in which she first trained—producing works that translate her processes of sculptural accumulation into the making of collaged paintings that are detailed, dynamic, and highly textural.
Just as the postwar affichistes elevated the accumulated visual grit of everyday urban life to the status of a painting, Sze’s large-scale panel paintings collapse multiple forms of picture making into an intricate but unified visual language. In some, photographic scraps are torn and visibly taped to the surfaces, resulting in abstracted tableaux that conjure pixelation while retaining the aura of the analog and the handmade. Sze layers paint over and under these jagged paper geometries, weaving them into each composition in sweeping arcs, thrumming lines, and shimmering gradients. In others, the textures are pure trompe l’oeil, achieved solely through photographic collage.
In a series of four small paintings partly inspired by Piet Mondrian’s phasing of a tree motif into total abstraction, Sze begins with a seed image: a manipulated digital photograph of one of her previous paintings or sculptures, which then becomes the foundation for a new work. In this generative and recursive process, decisions made in one composition resonate in connected visual constellations that either persist or decay with the passage of time.
Alongside these new paintings, Sze presents a new multimedia installation entitled Plein Air (2020) that demonstrates her continued fascination with the production and translation of images. Like many of her three-dimensional projects, the work combines intricate assemblage and video projection; it functions as a kind of tool or portal, pulling images from the world and presenting them in the gallery space in a transformed state. Thus, moving and static images are enmeshed with sculpture and architecture in a loop that conflates input and output, production and consumption.
Also on view is Double Wishbone (2020), a barely-there sculpture comprised of delicate steel chains linked with “pure paint,” Sze’s term for a ribbon of dried paint that is the autonomous trace of her process. Suspended in the stairwell of the Paris gallery, with other iterations dispersed around the space casting their faint shadows, Double Wishbone invokes Marcel Duchamp’s Hat Rack (1917/1964) as well as his concept of inframince, the ineffable liminality evoked by seeing a pane of painted glass from the unpainted side, or the smell of cigarette smoke mingling with that of the mouth exhaling it.
In October 2020, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, will present a solo exhibition of Sze’s work, and in December 2020 the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris will present its second solo exhibition of her work. In May 2021 Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York, will unveil Fallen Sky, a new large-scale permanent commission.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)