Currently on view at Gladstone Gallery’s 21st street location is O Tópico, Chapter 27, R. H. Quaytman’s latest chapter in her ambitious, ongoing project of cohesive, site-specific installations. Quaytman started her serial painting project in 2001 with eighty paintings she made to be exhibited at the Queens Museum, and has now reached the 27th installment of the project, this one inspired by Inhotim, a botanical garden and art park located in the Brazilian region of Minas Gerais.
This South American country opens a new page for Quaytman’s project, the first time that she has shifted her focus away from regions of the Europe and the U.S. The title of the show, meaning “subject” in Portuguese, refers to the multiplicity and diversity of subjects she aims to reflect related to Brazil and its inhabitants, an effort to portray the whole country in its most expansive possibility. Following the exhibition, the works in O Tópico, Chapter 27 will be installed in their permanent home at Inhotim, in a pavilion designed by architect Solveig Fernlund, who also is responsible for the replica built inside Gladstone Gallery.
The inspiration for the scheme Quaytman utilizes here comes from the Fibonacci sequence, the series of exponentially-increasing numbers that are the sums of the previous two, and which form the core of the golden ratio. This progression is also reflected in the creation process of some works as well, applying its system of numbers to the measurements of panels on view or the selection of colors within the spectrum. Quaytman, who made two expeditions to Brazil for research purposes, applies her reflections on the country in conjunction with these rigid mathematical forms, bringing together a diverse set of components to bear on her exhibition.
As an artist who has always been interested in referencing other artist’s works, Quaytman cites a number of friends and colleagues here as her inspiration. Troca-Troca, showing a local teenage girl in front of an antique Volkswagen, is one of those pieces, incorporating work made by a Brazilian artist Jarbas Lopes. In another piece, artist Dawn Kasper appears in an image working on an artwork. Yet, as Quaytman explains in her statement, her audience is not her colleagues or peers, but the people of Brazil, who do not necessarily know her or the other artists referenced in these works.
Quaytman’s exhibition takes an intriguing look at the reflexive nature of artistic production, and its role in the experience of geography, time and production. It is on view through December 20, 2014.
*Copyright R. H. Quaytman, courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels
— O.C. Yerebakan