Abts creates paintings that confound expectation. Small, severe, and abstract, Abts' work is an antidote to the florid figuration that has dominated the contemporary painting discourse for the last decade. Chan mixes images of simple beauty with traumatic memories from 9/11 and illuminating quotations from art history. The exhibition offers a unique occasion to contemplate Chan's work in New York. Curated by Massimiliano Gioni.
curated by Massimiliano Gioni
New York, NY… The New Museum is pleased to present New York-based artist Paul Chan’s first major exhibition in America and the U.S. premiere of “The 7 Lights” (2005-2007), a series of large-scale digital projections and drawings that compose an hallucinated version of the seven days of creation. “The 7 Lights” series will be accompanied by other examples of Chan’s work, including new videos and drawings. A specially conceived project will extend the show beyond the Museum’s walls, as Chan anonymously spreads thousands of posters throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. “Paul Chan: The 7 Lights” will be on view from April 9 through June 29, 2008, and is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Director of Special Exhibitions.
With his videos, installations, and drawings, Chan has emerged as one of the most original voices in contemporary art. Since their first appearance in 2005, Paul Chan’s Lights have captured the attention of critics and public alike. Presented individually in biennials and exhibitions across the globe, they have rarely been seen in New York. By bringing all of Chan’s Lights together and expanding the exhibition with new works, the New Museum’s show will offer a unique occasion to explore the world of an artist whose animations engage with such fundamental themes as politics, poetry, war, death and desire. Combining images of stunning simplicity with complex reflections on the idea of illumination, the passing of time, and the writing of disaster, “The 7 Lights” unfold like a series of enigmatic encounters with light and darkness. With slowly revolving forms and hypnotic reverberations, “The 7 Lights” conjures a world in which objects ascend in space and are dismantled by invisible forces, while bodies tragically fall through the air.
Projected on floors and walls like the cast of light from an open window or the supernatural manifestation of a parallel universe, Chan’s theater of shadows describes apocalyptic landscapes and visions, but also trembles with a sense of haunting beauty. Inspired by structuralist films, Baroque paintings, obsolete and emerging technologies alike, Chan constructs a narrative of catastrophe that is both timeless and unsettlingly familiar. “The 7 Lights” evoke a stark historical past but remain indisputably current, with references that point to contemporary tragedies such the war in Iraq and 9/11. “The 7 Lights” possess an almost sacred resonance that takes on a deeper tone when viewed in New York, the city that has inspired much of Chan’s oeuvre.
For his first solo exhibition in a New York institution, Paul Chan has realized new works for the exhibition that touch upon the subjects of sexuality and freedom. Chan will also install works in the lobby and other interstitial spaces of the Museum and has created a poster project that spreads mysterious messages on the walls of Manhattan and Brooklyn—thousands of anonymous street poems that will read as prophetic visions, promises, and threats.
Paul Chan lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; and Portikus, Frankfurt. His work was also featured in important group exhibitions, including the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the 10th Istanbul Biennial (2007), the 54th Carnegie International (2004), and the 8th Lyon Biennial (2008). Chan’s single channel videos have been screened in film festivals worldwide, including the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. In November 2007 He collaborated with Creative Time and the Classical Theatre of Harlem to stage free site-specific performances of Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot in New Orleans.
The first major monograph devoted to the artist’s work accompanies the exhibition. Paul Chan: The 7 Lights is a 158-page volume produced in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery. The publication includes color reproductions of Chan’s complete oeuvre to date, with essays and interviews by George Baker, Paul Chan, Massimiliano Gioni, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Adam Phillips, and Kitty Scott.
“Paul Chan: The 7 Lights” is made possible by the lead support of Dimitris Daskalopoulos Collection, Greece and Randy Slifka. Additional generous support provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, Julia Stoschek, and the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund. Support for the accompanying publication has been provided by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.
Founded in 1977, the New Museum is the first and only contemporary art museum in New York City and among the most respected internationally, with a curatorial program unrivaled in the United States in its global scope and adventurousness. With the inauguration of our new, state-of-the-art building on the Bowery, the New Museum is the destination for new art and new ideas.
New York, NY… On April 9, the New Museum will introduce the first major U.S. solo exhibition of paintings by London-based artist Tomma Abts (born Kiel, Germany, 1967). Abts creates paintings that confound expectation. Small, severe, and abstract, Abts’ work is an antidote to the florid figuration that has dominated the contemporary painting discourse for the last decade. As one of the leaders of a resurgent abstract vocabulary, she has found a language that is not merely abstract, but also absolutist and visionary. “Tomma Abts” includes fifteen paintings created over the past ten years and will be on view through June 29. The exhibition is organized by Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator. Abts’ works are modest in size but extremely ambitious. While other painters have typically ramped up the proportions of their canvases, Abts’ paintings measure a mere 18 7/8 by 15 inches (48 x 38 cm). They are also profoundly nonrepresentational—their meaning only conveyed by color and line, without reference to the already existing visual world. Abts’ colors are often indescribable, and her combinations can be muted or charged, daring viewers to recalibrate their assumptions about color. In the present contemporary art climate, her paintings seem strange, aberrant, if not a bit shocking. In their stab at profundity though, they are also relevant in some fundamental way to our anxious times.
Abts is the recipient of the 2006 Turner Prize, awarded by the Tate Modern in London. One of the most prestigious honors in the contemporary art world, the Turner Prize has made Abts a household name in Great Britain and created curiosity about the artist and her work worldwide. She was included in the 2001 Istanbul Biennial, the 2004 Carnegie International, and the 2006 Berlin Biennial; and in solo exhibitions in Europe at the Kunsthalle, Kiel (2006) and the Kunsthalle, Basel (2005). Since 1999, she has had solo exhibitions in commercial galleries in Berlin, Cologne, and London.
The accompanying monograph Tomma Abts is the first of its kind on the artist and includes reproductions of more than fifty paintings and works on paper. The publication is a study of Abts’ paintings and drawings in the context of contemporary art and the history of abstraction. Co-published by the New Museum and Phaidon Press, London, the book features essays by Los Angeles-based critic Bruce Hainley; Berlin-based critic Jan Verwoert; and Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator at the New Museum. The exhibition travels to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, from July 27–November 2, 2008.
“Tomma Abts” is made possible by a grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and gifts from James- Keith (JK) Brown and Eric G. Diefenbach, and Hilary and Peter Hatch. Additional support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund. Support for the accompanying publication has been provided by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.
Opening 9 april 2008
235 Bowery, New York