Galleries Now | “No Line on the Horizon”
December 16, 2021
Lévy Gorvy is pleased to announce “No Line on the Horizon,” an exhibition that explores the compelling ways in which postwar and contemporary painters reimagine the tradition of landscape through the lens of abstraction.
Landscape has fascinated artists for millennia, dating as far back as the Greek and Roman era when painters covered their walls with ornate gardenscapes. Since the late nineteenth century, however, landscape painting has moved away from mimeticism; for modern artists, the genre became less about opening a portal to the outside world than exploring the subjective possibilities of perspective, light, and space. Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne revolutionized the landscape genre by claiming that his every brushstroke merited its own viewpoint. The canvas, no longer a flat expanse, became a dynamic site of compositional and perceptual interplay, akin, as philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty argued to “an emerging order [...] appearing, organizing itself before our eyes.”
Cézanne’s “emerging order” opened the floodgates for generations of painters to chart the interstitial territory between landscape and abstraction. “No Line on the Horizon” spotlights how the fusion of these two genres have kindled unparalleled innovation in the medium of painting for more than fifty years. Building off of the variegation of Cézanne’s works, Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki contrasted swaths of bold color with patches of dense, dramatic brushwork, allowing viewers to define the topography of his atmospheric scenes for themselves.
Yves Klein, a conceptualist who famously claimed the sky as his first official work of art, painted a series of monochromes using a proprietary pigment he called International Klein Blue. Klein touted these works as enveloping environments, “an open window to freedom, as the possibility of being immersed in the immeasurable existence of color.” Much like Klein’s monochromes, acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets are aspatial and atemporal, yet undeniably reference the natural world. Here, Infinity Nets [TRFOEYA], 2017, alludes to an aquatic realm, ensnaring the viewer in its cerulean expanse.
Other artists in “No Line on the Horizon” create works that use contrasts in color and line to evoke landscape. Pat Steir’s signature “waterfall” technique encourages the viewer to consider how the chance effects of gravity are as striking in paint as they are in nature. Similarly, eminent centenarian artist Pierre Soulages’s Outrenior paintings—or “beyond black” works—appear like layered strata in inky acrylic, revealing the radiant light that emerges from within even the darkest fields.
In recent years, a new generation of painters have sought to demarcate abstract space through a cacophony of color. Shara Hughes describes her vibrant, extemporaneously painted works as “interior” landscapes that mirror the chromatic and psychological intensity of Fauvism and German Expressionism. Theresa Chromati and Joel Mesler offset textual or figurative references with riotous pattern and color. Equally sensuous and surreal, Chromati’s canvases exalt the Black female body as a territory built upon power, strength, and desire. Recalling everything from the jungles of Paul Gauguin to the tropicália that pervaded mid-century decorative art, Mesler’s paintings of lush fauna feature calligraphic quips that read both as private missives and pop culture catchphrases.
Lévy Gorvy is delighted to present the artists above in dialogue with Frank Auerbach, Francesco Clemente, Elizabeth Neel, Joel Shapiro, Tu Hongtao, and Günther Uecker, all of whom are represented by works from the last thirty years. “No Line on the Horizon” demonstrates the continued inspiration postwar and contemporary artists draw from the newly founded genre of “abstract landscape” painting.
December 16, 2021
December 1, 2021