Nov 21, 2019 – Jan 18, 2020
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present three, concurrent solo exhibitions by New York artists Richard Serra, Don Voisine and Stephen Westfall with a two-person exhibition by Colorado artists Kate Petley and Derrick Velasquez. The five artists on view challenge and investigate varying aspects of abstraction, including Minimalism and Geometric Abstraction, in a variety of media. From print work to painting as well as sculpture, the artists’ explorations into visual weight, color and surface are expansive in both composition and form. The dynamic yet nuanced large-scale textural prints of preeminent sculptor Richard Serra, leading into the bold and color-saturated paintings of highly regarded artists Don Voisine and Stephen Westfall, alongside the process and material-based work of recognized artists Kate Petley and Derrick Velasquez, influence and add to the vocabulary of abstraction with their distinctive pursuits. Each of the exhibited artists invite the viewer to engage in a dialogue between light and dark, gravity and weightlessness and to experience a sense of the architectural.
“I consider space to be a material. The articulation of space has come to take precedence over other concerns.”
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by the significant American artist, Richard Serra. Featured in the main gallery is the artist’s “Equal” series, a suite of eight, large scale, Paintstik and silica prints on handmade paper, accompanied by two smaller print works from Serra’s “Ballast” series. Known for his singular, multi-ton, steel sculptures of massive-scale such as Intersection II, made of four conical shaped fifty-foot inward leaning steel walls, or the rusted, curvilinear Torqued Ellipses and the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum’s circuitous Snake, Serra’s artistic reach is global. Widely celebrated and recognized for decades throughout the USA, Europe, the Middle East and beyond, Serra’s commanding sculptures ignite their surrounds. The intent of the artist’s work is not to be simply viewed, but rather to be experienced; to serve as an element that invites investigation of the expanding and encompassing space, instead of exclusively the sculpture itself. The scale and mass become exhilarating as they ground the viewer, allowing for contemplation and a strong sense of movement and materiality. Art critic Hal Foster declared, “A lot of people wanted to reduce sculpture to object making, but (Serra) reclaimed sculpture for space making.”
Consistent with his visual vocabulary and intent, Serra’s exhibited “Equal” prints are in direct dialogue to the artist’s sculpture of the same name, which resides as part of the permanent collection in MOMA’s new David Geffen Wing. Inaugurating the museum’s recent reopening in October 2019, Equal, is the assembly of eight 40-ton, forged steel blocks, measuring 60 x 66 x 72 inch each, which are positioned in four stacks of two in Serra’s designated gallery. Serra states, “Weight is a value to me, not that it is any more compelling than lightness, but I simply know more about weight than lightness and therefore, I have more to say about it, more to say about the balancing of weight, the diminishing of weight, the addition and subtraction of weight, the concentration of weight, the rigging of weight, the propping of weight, the placement of weight, the locking of weight, the psychological effects of weight, the directionality of weight, the shape of weight.” While the monumental physicality of weight is made manifest in the Equal sculpture and the four, two-part towers are uniform in size, their varied placement and configuration makes them appear to be divergently sized one from the other in an illusionary manner.
Similarly, illusion is at work in the presented “Equal” print series, which consists of eight vertical pairs of corresponding rectangles equivalent in dimension yet appearing to be different sizes depending on how they are oriented on the wall. Eschewing a traditional presentation, each Equal print evokes an experience in two-dimension akin to the spatial consideration and mass of the Serra Equal sculpture. A sense of wonder comes into play with their impossibly black color, mysterious texture and purity of the form, along with their contemplative illusory proportions. The use of invisible cleats and magnets sturdily affix the wall hung paper, which allows for each print to be freed from traditional presentation and importantly, to invite more of a meditative experience as the pieces seem to float in space. As demonstrated over many years, Serra expresses a similar curiosity of material manipulation toward his works on paper that he has repeatedly shown in exploring the multiple properties of steel in his sculpture. Using a thick application of dense black Paintstik and silica on custom-made Japanese paper, the artist achieves a surface that is highly textural and light-absorbing. The paired elements of each Equal print are at once elegant, dynamic and nuanced, becoming more expansive when considered within the whole of the “Equal” series or as another aspect of the artist’s total body of work. Serra’s “Equal” prints are not only another important chapter in the artist’s long history with printmaking or just a reflection of the artist’s imposing steel Equal sculptures, rather, each are their own rich and visual statement of mass and gravitas. Regarding his prints, Serra states, “I want to avoid a service which could be read as gestural. I want my surfaces to be as anonymous as possible so that they don’t call attention to themselves.” Printmaking is an oeuvre that continues to grow as the artist’s relentless vitality remains seemingly undiminished. Whether his medium is forged steel or Paintstik and sand on paper, Richard Serra expands the boundaries of art as a way for both artist and viewer to perceive, to feel, and to think about the world.
As one of the most significant American sculptors working today, New York artist Richard Serra has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in painting from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He is the recipient of the Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement, Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2001); Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste, Federal Republic of Germany (2002); Orden de las Artes y las Letras de España, Spain (2008); President’s Medal, Architectural League of New York (2014); Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, Republic of France (2015); and J. Paul Getty Medal (2018). A major traveling retrospective dedicated to Serra’s drawings was presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Menil Collection, Houston (the organizing venue), from 2011 to 2012. Serra’s sculptures and drawings have been celebrated with two retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, twenty years apart: Richard Serra/Sculpture (1986) and Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years (2007). He has exhibited worldwide and is represented in both private and public collections including: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI; Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain; Guggenheim, New York, NY; Harvard University Art Museum, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C; Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, MO; Qatar Museums Authority, Doha, Qatar; San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Tate Gallery, London, England; Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY, among many others.