Nairy Baghramian’s third solo exhibition at Galerie Buchholz in Berlin is on view at the gallery through November 17, 2018. It is accompanied by a publication produced alongside Déformation Professionelle. This exhibition, shown over the last two years at SMAK, Ghent, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, was originally conceived as a retrospective. However, the artist decided to modify this approach and instead construct a show around new pieces that refer back to earlier ones. At Galerie Buchholz, many of these self-reflexive pieces are on view in the gallery’s first floor exhibition space.
In contrast to the aforementioned exhibitions, Baghramian has opted to include earlier works in conversation with the newer ones on the second floor of the gallery. These pieces reveal the influences had on the newer works, and the two bodies of work stage a productive and revealing dialogue about interpretation, dissection, and augmentation of one’s own work. One of the pairs that is most revelatory of this rich dialogic approach is the exhibition’s eponymous sculpture, Vitrine Rafraîchirée.
This work makes reference to the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery, Formage de tête (2011). In the former, a series of basic forms in colorless ceramic are laid out in a sort of medical display case. These constitute the positive counterparts to comparable negative cast spaces in silicon mats found in the artist’s Réchauds sculptures. In these sculptures, one of which is on view in the gallery’s upper floor, these silicon mats were draped slackly over minimal frames.
This exhibition is a fascinating example of the limitless possibilities for intervention, reflection, and emphasis that can come out of self-reflection. The show at Galerie Buchholz presents the particularly compelling opportunity to examine Baghramian’s new work in conversation with a sort of origin point present in the influencing works from past exhibitions. The scope of the work, spanning sculpture, installation and photography, also shows how forms, questions, or thematic areas of focus can shift and move between or across media.
Though conceived as an alternative to a formal retrospective, this exhibition reveals exciting directions that this approach can take: namely, the examination and re-interpretation of past works in the present. The artist’s selection of particular works to serve as a backdrop for more recent compositions offers a fruitful and more profound viewing experience. Instead of attempting to construct an exhaustive and overarching survey of a life’s work, this show creates the opportunity to participate in the process and development of an oeuvre.
— A. Corrigan
Exhibition Page [Galerie Buchholz]