Han Bing / Wook-Kyung Choi / Mandy El-Sayegh / Martha Jungwirth / Rachel Jones / Dona Nelson / Megan Rooney /Thu-Van Tran
Curated by Oona Doyle
Saturation brings together two generations of contemporary artists whose works explore new forms of experimental, gestural or lyrical abstraction. Major figures associated with Abstract Expressionism, Martha Jungwirth (b. 1940, Austria), Wook-Kyung Choi (1940-–85, Korea) and Dona Nelson (b. 1947, USA), dialogue with a younger generation of artists, Han Bing (b. 1986, China, based in France), Mandy El-Sayegh (b. 1985, Malaysia, based in the UK), Rachel Jones (b. 1991, UK), Megan Rooney (b. 1986, South Africa, based in the UK) and Thu-Van Tran (b. 1979, Vietnam, based in France).
Martha Jungwirth and Mandy El-Sayegh had their first solo shows at Thaddaeus Ropac Paris last autumn, and Saturation is the first presentation of Rachel Jones and Megan Rooney’s work at our Paris gallery. Han Bing, Wook-Kyung Choi, Dona Nelson and Thu-Van Tran have been invited especially for the exhibition.
“Saturation” refers to the expressive power of colour: in colour theory it describes the degree of a colour’s intensity. Saturation also evokes our contemporary condition, characterised by the overflow of information and a feeling of emotional and mental overload, which, according to the sociologist Monique Haicault, particularly affects women. The exhibition thus chooses to present the work of women artists, decentering abstraction from a historically male-dominant perspective.
How does each artist absorb and transform the world around them? How do they react to virtual and urban environments, marked by an economy of attention? A point of saturation is the moment that precedes and triggers overflow. This phenomenon can be found in the tension and repetitions present in the compositions on display, their condensed and poetic dimension, the superimpositions of paint and materials and within chromatic exploration. The overflow can be observed in the bold gestures and spillings, the improvisations, the transformation of materials, the free associations between image and text and the expansion of painting into installation and performance. In their works, certain artists, such as Megan Rooney, Thu-Van Tran and Dona Nelson, evoke the meteorological meaning of the term ‘saturation’ – saturated air contains the maximum amount of water vapour – through the atmospheric quality of their paintings.
Each artist presents two to five works, made for the most part especially for the exhibition, ranging from a six-metre long painting on paper by Martha Jungwirth to more intimate inks by Wook-Kyung Choi. Rachel Jones combines small-scale, unstretched canvases with large landscape formats, while Mandy El-Sayegh expands the scope of her paintings by creating an immersive environment and through performance. In the three naves of the Pantin gallery, from one work to another, colours, shapes and gestures call to each other. The artists are brought together for the first time, allowing for new connections between their practices.
The exhibition focuses on artists for whom poetry, literature and music are a major component of their art, whether it is in the process and manner of painting or as source material. The urge and impulse to express through paint combines with reflections on language, giving way to new forms of lyrical abstraction.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)