Friday, April 5, 2013

Human form plays an erotic hide-and-seek in these paintings

In Rita Ackermann’s art, the systematic and the accidental are kept in a state of constant dialogue and debate. Balance and the effort to achieve it have become the main focus of her process, and a kind of magical flux has become both the subject and condition of her art.

The alchemy of her artwork is vividly presented in a group of paintings, entitled ‘Negative Muscle’, on view at Hauser & Wirth, New York. The title is drawn from the first painting she made following a fruitful collaboration with filmmaker Harmony Korine on ‘Shadow Fux’ in 2010.

The centrepiece of her solo is a group of six new paintings from ‘Fire by Days’, a major ongoing series Ackermann initiated in late 2010, mapping her progression towards a highly personal and poetic form of abstraction. Once explicit in her art, the human form plays an erotic hide-and-seek in the new paintings by emerging from and disappearing into the picture.

The effect suggests that Ackermann’s figures are born from deep within the complex internal order of her paintings. At the same time, the artist points to a parallel dimension beyond what we can see: by intertwining abstraction and representation, bringing bodies and gestures to the forefront and then obscuring them, Ackermann hints at rooms beyond those of the gallery where space, objects and ideas are absorbed into a realm of her own design.

Taking its title from French poet Roger Gilbert-Lecomte’s ‘Vacancy in Glass’, Ackermann’s ‘Fire by Days’ series began as an accidental spill of paint on her studio floor. Ackermann mopped up the spill with a Hungarian fire safety poster. ‘I wanted to then duplicate the pure power of the accident through this image,’ she has said. ‘I wanted to multiply its freedom.

"By repeating the elements of the raw creation of a ‘disaster’ and failing to keep it from unintentional learned gestures, I arrived at something that violently pushed itself between figuration and abstraction, pushing through to make itself completely free. This type of freedom in painting only arrives for mere seconds, or rather for an immeasurable amount of time, but it reveals infinite perspective."

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