New York-Liza Lou: “Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds” at Lehmann Maupin Through October 27th, 2018

October 9th, 2018

Pyrocumulus, 2018
Liza Lou, Pyrocumulus (2018), All images via Lehmann Maupin.

Now through October 27th, Lehmann Maupin will host Liza Lou: Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds as its inaugural exhibition of the gallery’s new West 24th Street location. The show continues at the gallery’s West 22nd Street location, in which a room is dedicated to works from Lou’s Terra series. This is the artist’s first exhibition in New York City in over a decade, and includes works of painting, sculpture, drawing, and video.

Since her presentation of Kitchen at the New Museum in 1996, Liza Lou’s work has been pushing the boundaries between art and craft, sculpture and performance. For example, this is life-size replica of a kitchen, now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, is constructed entirely of beads. Continuing in this vein, Lou has since explored scenes from everyday life, replicating yards, trailers, and fences in her room-sized tableaux. Her more recent abstract sculptures and wall reliefs maintain an investment in representing work and practice through themes of process, labor, and beauty.

Liza Lou, The Clouds (2015-18)

In this work, the artist focuses on an exploration of the way that space is shaped in the elements and structures we encounter on a daily basis. The Clouds (2015-2018) is a monumentally scaled work recently exhibited in the 21st Biennale of Sydney. For this work, Lou observed daily atmospheric phenomena in the two cities where she divides her time: Durban, South Africa and Los Angeles.

Stretching 50 feet wide by 23 feet tall, The Clouds consists of 600 hand-sewn beaded cloths. Lou then paints and partially smashes the beads with a hammer, revealing a paint-stained network of thread beneath. This interplay between cloth, thread, and beads appears in the other works in the exhibition as well and highlights the themes of nebulousness and transformation that undergird this show.

Liza Lou, Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds (Installation View)

Nacreous is made from layers of woven cloths on which beads were painted then crushed away on painted forms, creating a hazy, sfumato effect. The processes of discoloration, layering, and staining are all integral to many of these painted sculptural forms. The exhibition also features a series of wall reliefs. In these, Lou transcends the uniformity of glass beads, her chosen material, after developing a technique that uses spheres of varying sizes sewn together in cell-like structures.

Liza Lou, The Clouds (2015-18)

Liza Lou, Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds (Installation View)

Finally, the exhibition also includes large-scale examples of the artist’s drawing practice. Because she considers the canvases upon which she draws to be instruments, as she makes a mark upon them Lou utters an audible sound, ranging from drones to whoops and groans. The video Drawing Instrument (2018) is on view on the lower-level gallery of Lehmann Maupin, and features layered recordings of the artist drawing and singing. The result is a complex and haunting audiovisual experience that further interrogates the relationship between mutability and definition at stake in this impressive show.

— A. Corrigan

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Lehmann Maupin]