Exploring two distinct voices in the evolution of art practice over the past 20 years, Eva Presenhuber has brought a strikingly confrontational, challenging exhibition to New York City, showing a body of works by Adam Pendleton and Liam Gillick that works between each artist’s strengths, and mines an ever-shifting understanding of the world around them to motivate and elaborate their respective iconographies.
The show has much to do with counterpoint and complement, all the way down to its stark, black and white color palette and alternating pattern of works. Pendleton and Gillick almost seem to trade barbs throughout the show, the former’s dense prints negotiating against the latter’s massive wall texts and framed pieces. This dialogue, a core duality to the show, presents the viewer with an option to move between viewpoints, but rarely to stand directly in the middle, any one vantage point in the show forcing an acknowledgement of each artist’s relations to the space and their change in position and primacy as the viewer moves across the room.
Fragmentation and coherence take center stage here, asking to what degree the understanding of collective elements is to be informed by to pieces selected for showing and to what degree the viewer should disregard to reassemble these fragments (they are, after all, pieces), into a new whole. Pendleton and Gillick pose the question, quite effortlessly as to where the show begins, and the collection of works on view stops.
The abstract, in their view, seems to always be in a state of movement towards the concrete, each piece allowed to present both as a signifier or signpost towards a broader movement, and in turn, is equally a part of the totality. Pendleton’s work, so often invested in the translation of the art historical through a new lens of blackness, is here cross-examined by Gillick’s structural rethinking of the exhibition as a form. How the exhibition can be reconstituted in this manner, combining a new entrenchment of the black body and the lack artist into the traditions of Dada and Surrealism, and its subsequent valorization by Gillick’s exhibition form, ultimately presents one new way forward, a show that constantly remakes itself, even as the making itself remains fluid.
The show closes December 22nd.
— D. Creahan
Galerie Eva Presenhuber [Exhibition Site]