Airport, please! the LRFA blog heads to London for Pace’s exhibition Creating Abstraction of seven international sculptors
Creating Abstraction, a group exhibition that brings together seven female artists whose experimental approach to material and engagement with Modernism has pushed the boundaries of abstraction opens on February 3rd. Airport, please! the LRFA blog is looking forward to visiting Pace’s new gallery in Hanover Square and seeing this thought provoking exhibit co-curated with Carla Chammas, that centers on the idea of multi-disciplinarity as a means of exploring abstraction. In a time of Covid, complicating travel, communication and personal connecting, the LRFA blog applauds Pace Gallery for assembling such a diverse and intellectual survey show very much worth a visit.
In bringing together an array of work by these seven artists, Creating Abstraction offers a window into each individual’s complex, layered, radical work as well as the broader context of their practice.
On view from 3 February through
12 March, across the full expanse of Pace’s recently opened Hanover Square gallery, Creating Abstraction looks at the ways in which various Modernist movements were disseminated across the world and interpreted by artists from Britain, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Singapore and the United States. This exhibition creates dialogues between the sculptures, paintings, textiles, works on paper, video, photography, and installations of Carla Accardi (1924-2014), Leonor Antunes (b. 1972), Yto Barrada (b. 1971), Saloua Raouda Choucair (1916-2017), Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), Kim Lim (1936-1997) and Louise Nevelson (1899-1988). Despite vastly disparate nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds, there is a shared sensibility between these artists who each found inspiration in Modernism’s non-hierarchical approach to material, and abstraction’s rich capacity for multi-disciplinary experimentation.
Saloua Raouda Choucair is widely considered the first abstract artist in Lebanon. Inspired by mathematics, architecture and Islamic design and poetry, her pioneering practice encompassed sculpture, painting, drawing, jewellery, and textile. The modular structure of her sculptures, such as Poem (1972-74) or Poem (Ramlet el Beida) (1966/2013), which, like the stanzas of Arabic poetry can stand alone or be presented as a whole, have a particular resonance with the sculptures of Singaporean-British artist, Kim Lim. Lim’s practice, which traversed wood, bronze, marble, stone, fibreglass, aluminium, slate, and ink primarily took the form of sculpture and printmaking. Like Choucair, Lim took immense inspiration from the aesthetics of ancient Eastern art, travelling extensively across the Middle East and Asia throughout her life. In sculptures such as Caryatid (1961) Lim’s elegant fusion of historical sculptural forms with a distinctly Modernist aesthetic is particularly apparent.
Lim and Choucair’s prints, works on paper and paintings have a shared sensibility with the work of Italian artist Carla Accardi, who’s avant-garde practice paved the way for many twentieth century movements in Italy. Best known for her experiments in sicofoil, a transparent plastic material, Accardi’s sculptures and paintings investigate both the formal and spatial effect of line, shape and gesture. The graphic quality of Accardi’s work such as Fondo Rosso (1959) or Segni Grigi (1986), resonates strongly with Choucair’s dynamic gouache paintings on paper.
An innovator of the Direct Carving technique and the first sculptor to pierce their forms, Barbara Hepworth is recognized as a master of British Modernism. Though most commonly recognised for her groundbreaking sculptures, which included bronze, stone, wood and string, her practice also encompassed painting, lithograph, collage, and drawing. Three Forms (1971) and Stringed Figure (Curlew) (Maquette) (1956) creates an enchanting dialogue with Louise Nevelson’s sculptures and collages. Unlike Hepworth, Nevelson’s artistic practice was additive, assembling materials found in the streets surrounding her studio to construct sculpture, collage, and installation. By painting the elements of her sculptures entirely black, white, or gold, Nevelson erased their former functions, focusing attention on their form. In Untitled (1971), a monumental monochromatic black sculpture, Nevelson nestles forms within a larger structure akin to a cabinet of curiosities.
By including both twentieth century artists who were instrumental in the development of abstraction, and contemporary artists – Yto Barrada and Leonor Antunes – Creating Abstraction considers the legacy of Modernism today. Barrada’s work in textile, photography and video speaks at once to the multifaceted, multidisciplinary histories of Modernism and to her own personal landscape. In Velvet collage #6 (2021) Barrada references the hard-edge abstraction and Modernist history of the ‘grid’ while also drawing from her own daily life – the velvet is dyed using homemade pigments forged from the plants in her Tangier studio garden. Similarly, Antunes’s research-based practice actively responds to the histories of overlooked female Modernists, anni #26 I (2020) is a reimagining of Anni Albers’s abstract weavings in glittering brass. Antunes’s installation, indirect lighting (group 2) (2021), which extends from floor to ceiling with ceramic sculptural pieces spiralling in space, echoes the modular sculpture of Choucair, Lim, and Nevelson.
Pace is a leading international art gallery representing some of the most influential contemporary artists and estates from the past century, holding decades-long relationships with Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Barbara Hepworth, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, and Mark Rothko. Pace enjoys a unique U.S. heritage spanning East and West coasts through its early support of artists central to the Abstract Expressionist and Light and Space movements.
Since its founding by Arne Glimcher in 1960, Pace has developed a distinguished legacy as an artist-first gallery that mounts seminal historical and contemporary exhibitions. Under the current leadership of President and CEO Marc Glimcher, Pace continues to support its artists and share their visionary work with audiences worldwide by remaining at the forefront of innovation. Now in its seventh decade, the gallery advances its mission through a robust global program—comprising exhibitions, artist projects, public installations, institutional collaborations, performances, and interdisciplinary projects. Pace has a legacy in art bookmaking and has published over five hundred titles in close collaboration with artists, with a focus on original scholarship and on introducing new voices to the art historical canon. The gallery has also spearheaded exploration into the intersection of art and technology through new business models, exhibition interpretation tools, and representation of artists engaging with technology.
Today, Pace has nine locations worldwide including London, Geneva, a strong foothold in Palo Alto, and two galleries in New York—its headquarters at 540 West 25th Street, which welcomed almost 120,000 visitors and programmed 20 shows in its first six months and an adjacent 8,000 sq. ft. exhibition space at 510 West 25th Street. Pace was one of the first international galleries to establish outposts in Asia, where it operates permanent galleries in Asia and the first to Seoul.
Despite vastly disparate nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds, there is a shared sensibility between these artists who each found inspiration in Modernism’s non-hierarchical approach to material, and abstraction’s rich capacity for multi-disciplinary experimentation.
On view from 3 February – 12 March, across the full expanse of Pace’s recently opened Hanover Square gallery, Creating Abstraction looks at the ways in which various Modernist movements were disseminated across the world and interpreted by artists from Britain, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Singapore and the United States. This exhibition creates dialogues between the sculptures, paintings, textiles, works on paper, video, photography, and installations of Carla Accardi (1924-2014), Leonor Antunes (b. 1972), Yto Barrada (b. 1971), Saloua Raouda Choucair (1916-2017), Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), Kim Lim (1936-1997) and Louise Nevelson (1899-1988).
During a time of intense personal concerns, it is refreshing to see women artists exploring the legacy of Modernism and abstraction in this beautiful exhibition.