On view currently at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is an exhibition of the latest body of work from Andra Ursuta, inspired by the artist’s fear and obsession with death. The show is Ursuta’s first solo exhibition in a United States museum, and will remain on view through May 25th.
The work on view consists of a series of mixed media sculptures made of found objects, cement, plaster, marble, and wood, exuding the artist’s sensations of melancholy, memory, nostalgia, and the apocalyptic surrounding her conceptions of the end of life. Ursuta actively avoids cemeteries, but makes imaginary visits to graveyards “as a cathartic exercise,” and for the 2012 Frieze Art Fair’s Projects section she constructed a graveyard with marble tombstones carved into abstract shapes. In this exhibition, the gallery has been turned into a different kind of graveyard,where each “tombstone” casts cross sections of what lies below the ground,rather than shadows.
Much of Ursuta’s inspiration allegedly comes from news stories and photographs found on the internet. Her work has been compared to that of Yves Klein and Constantin Brancusi, reflecting on images from the past from a contemporary point of view. She is constantly wavering between the traditional education she received as a child in Romania and the free-thinking, critical theory based curriculum at Columbia University. She has admitted to being constantly affected by the environmental contrast between the place she comes from (Romania) and the place she lives now (New York).
The resulting combination of Ursuta’s inspirations with her chosen focus here creates an ominous, but ultimately intriguing study of the physical constructs of the afterlife. Compiling sub-terranean imagery in conversation with the artist’s own fantastic details and embellishments, the site of departure (i.e. the very earth we walk on), is transformed into a portal for the supernatural elements of death to make themselves tangibly felt. While avoiding outright emotional cues, Ursuta’s work digs deep into her personal memories and impressions to trace a line between this life and what lies beyond it.
The exhibition was organized by Ali Subotnick and Emily Gonzales, and will continue at Hammer Museum as a part of Hammer Projects, a series of exhibitions focusing primarily on the work of emerging artists, through May 25, 2014.
Exhibition Page [Hammer Museum]