Sargent’s Daughters is pleased to present “Ross Bleckner and Volker Eichelmann”, a two-person exhibition of paintings and collage works on paper. The exhibition will open on Wednesday, February 11th and run until March 15, 2015. The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue of Ross Bleckner's 18 inch paintings.
In this exhibition, Bleckner presents a group of 18 inch paintings, which span a period of roughly twenty years. This is the first time Bleckner has exhibited these works, though the format has been important to Bleckner throughout his career. Usually these paintings are made alongside larger works and serve alternately as experiments, tests, things left out, and things to be remembered. The choice of 18 inches corresponds to the Hebrew character chai meaning life and light, and is the title of the book accompanying the exhibition. The paintings presented here correspond to the different styles and bodies of work: Examined life paintings (1990), Burn Paintings (1991-1992), Architecture of the Sky Paintings (1993), Fading Consciousness Paintings (1996), Molecule, Blood and Disease Paintings (2000), Remembering Those Who Died Paintings (2000-Present), Crowd Paintings (Dissolving into One Another Paintings) (2002), Lifespan Paintings (2003), Meditation Paintings (2005), Flower Paintings (2010), Forgetting Paintings (2013), Brain Paintings (2013), Black Monet Paintings (2013-2014). As much as this selection demonstrates difference and variety, it is also tied together by ongoing material experimentation as well as reoccurring tropes, styles, and themes. Taken as a whole they depict Bleckner’s career long, multifaceted look at spirituality, humanity, and mortality.
Eichelmann’s latest text paintings produced in 2014 and 2015 feature extracts from the writings of two of Britain’s greatest eccentrics, William Beckford (1760-1844) and Stephen Tennant (1906-1987). Both were celebrated for epitomising the style and taste of their age. William Beckford, born to immense wealth, established himself as a most discerning collector of art and artefacts and housed his treasures in the ill-fated Fonthill Abbey, one of the most stupendous architectural confections ever constructed. In the 1920s Stephen Tennant was the most dazzling star of the ultimate fashion set, known as the Bright Young Things. He continued to be a legendary but reclusive figure in later life; writing poetry and designing endless book jackets for his long planned but never-to-be written book ‘Lascar, A Story of the Maritime Boulevards’. The extracts chosen by Eichelmann for these works conjure glittering images which Beckford and Tennant recorded in their diaries and letters. Miniature snapshots as seen through the eyes of 18th and the 20th century arbiters of taste flare up in the here and now. Beckford’s and Tennant’s words combined with Eichelmann’s lyrical abstractions present prisms, refracting 18th, 20th and 21st century sensibilities. This is Eichelmann's first exhibition in New York City.
Both Bleckner and Eichelmann’s attention to the past is mirrored by a fascination with the future. History is never far from either of them, yet neither is caught in the web of nostalgia. As Bleckner's work addresses the ever-present spectre of death, especially AIDs and how it decimated the gay community, Eichelmann's two subjects are also symbols of mortality and were, in their lives, widely believed to be homosexual. The longing of both artists manifests in their ability to capture the fragility and essence of subjects who can no longer speak for themselves, and the fleeting beauty of life in bloom as it slides to decay. Each work is as timeless as it is current: achieving a balance between past and present that endlessly resonates.
Sargent's Daughters gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Mary Boone Gallery in presenting this exhibition.
Ross Bleckner was born in 1949 in New York, NY. He received a Bachelor of Arts from New York University in 1971, a Master of Fine Arts from Cal Arts in 1973, and has taught at many of the nation's most prestigious universities. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum held a major retrospective of his works in 1995, summarizing two decades of solo shows at internationally acclaimed exhibition venues such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Works by Bleckner are also held in esteemed public collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The artist lives and works in New York.
Volker Eichelmann was born in 1973 in Hamburg, Germany. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Central St. Martins and Goldsmiths College, London. He has held solo exhibitions at Ancient & Modern, London; Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna; Liste, Switzerland and participated in numerous group shows including Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; 40yearsvideoart.de, ZKM Karlsruhe; Hello Darkness, K21, Düsseldorf; and Das Glasperlenspiel at Vilma Gold Project Space, Berlin. Eichelmann curated ‘Silver Mirros, Silver Wood’, a group show of his works shown alongside a selection of 18th and 19th century objets d’art for Frieze London 2014. He is currently Associate Professor at Kingston University and lives and works in London.