On view this month at Gagosian’s uptown exhibition space in New York, the gallery is presenting a never-before-seen body of work by Tatiana Trouvé produced in direct response to the pandemic era, drawing on the contemporary landscape to create a series of works that both trace time and reflect on the chaos of the past year. At the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine in March 2020, Trouvé, isolated in Paris, began a series of daily drawings using inkjet-printed reproductions of various international newspaper front pages as her starting point. As the pandemic marched on, spreading instability and uncertainty throughout the world, Trouvé continued to work ever more methodically in graphite, ink, and linseed oil.
The works here continue a classic trope in contemporary and modernist traditions, drawing scraps from the news, painting dates, and embellishing news headlines as a way to both leave a mark on the passage of history, as well as to create works that serve as quite literal archives of time and events. Connecting daily realities to poetry and the Symbolist movement, for instance, Pablo Picasso utilized scraps of Le Figaro in Cubist drawings and collages that used aleatory haphazardness to literally dematerialize neatly formatted columns of type into a chaotic jumble. In On Kawara’s classic date paintings, the works themselves become an archive of time itself, or at least a portrait of its measurement.
Trouvé’s piece, From March to May, extends these themes and connects them to the artist’s own lived experience, while also underscoring the role that technological reproduction and human intervention play in shaping aesthetic experience. In another departure from her modernist forebears, Trouvé’s drawings are fundamentally rooted in today’s digital age; they acknowledge the instant and universal connection that online newspaper editions provided during the pandemic. on an even more precious and profound status.
Her works here are presented like canvases in their own right, layering lines and figurative drawings over each formatted and printed front page from around the world. Beneath drawn and painted marks, ominous headlines swirl in and out of legibility, and familiar photographs mix surreally with Trouvé’s visions. Her drawings are both guided and interrupted by the arbitrary form of the printed page, inflecting the pragmatic character of newsprint with a dreamlike quality. In this suite of fifty-six works on paper, exterior and interior worlds fuse into one. The abstract and the everyday collide here, pressing the viewer to contend with history in relation to subjectivity at every turn.
The show is on view through October 30th.
– D. Creahan
Gagosian Gallery [Exhibition Site]