Long time friends Tacita Dean and Julie Mehretu have teamed up for a unique exhibition concept at Marian Goodman Gallery in Paris month, a show that winds through a broad range of varied techniques in abstraction. Dean and Mehretu are presenting two new works emblematic of their respective practices: Suite of Nine, a series of chalk drawings on slate depicting a solar eclipse and A Love Supreme, a large painting in ink and acrylic on canvas. On the occasion of the exhibition, the two artists decided to create in parallel 45 monotypes each. Composed of 90 works covering the walls of the gallery’s lower level, the installation Monotype Melody (ninety works for Marian Goodman) reflects a unique bond shared by the artists.
The show opens a particularly striking dialogue between each artist’s work, allowing their various interests and styles to converge throughout. Single works or clusters of pieces are placed in a manner in which the viewer’s own pathways draw lines exploring formal convergences, stylistic interplays and distinct contrasts that make for a rewarding and immersive path throughout the show. Works like Dean’s found materials and appropriated images, often bearing the smudges and marks of the artist or of the years themselves, are allowed an open conversation with Mehretu’s own lingering, twisting marks across the canvas. The interactions between concrete imagery and constructed fields of color alternate from work to work, occasionally twisting back over themselves. Some of Dean’s postcards, for instance, utilize similar washes of color and twists of the brush present in her compatriot’s compositions, yet here, the conversation between the original materials and the artist’s participation is foregrounded.
The larger works on view explore similar ideas, as the correlation between the artist’s process and the creation of their final works brings forth a nuanced interpretation of the act of art making, and one in which figuration or depiction becomes bound up in material questions and that of the artist’s own skilled hands. Dean’s depiction of a series of eclipses, for instance, is a fascinating interpretation of the behavior of gouache and spray paint, the unique materiality of her chosen tools lending both can impressive realism and specific series of textures that allow a meandering walk between concrete reality and the otherworldly event on view. By contrast, Mehretu’s embellishment of gestural movements images opens a space between reality and her own perceived landscape, where both sides are allowed to co-exist and co-mingle.
The show, as a result, asks quite striking questions of both artists and their work, or perhaps allows for these questions to surge forth from the assembled pieces, the result of the respective interests each artist has pursued over the course of their careers. Specifically, the question of what constitutes the ground of the image, or when a new image is formed sits at the center of this show. The answer, as both artists seem to have discovered, may not hold as much satisfaction and adventure as the asking.
The show closes today, July 20th.
— D. Creahan
Exhibition Page [Marian Goodman]