Jessica Stockholder : Palpable Glyphic Rapture

22 January - 14 March 2015 Bourg-Tibourg - Paris

The Galerie Nathalie Obadia is very pleased to present Jessica Stockholder's sixth exhibition, Palpable Glyphic Rapture, as part of the partnership begun in 1995 and followed by four shows in 1998, 2001, 2006 and 2009. For more than 25 years, the American Canadian artist has developed a pictorial and spatial body of work that oscillates dialectically between the accumulation of objects from the real world and the abstraction resulting from this chaos. One of the pioneers of contemporary art to produce an unusual and substantial corpus of installations that blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture, Jessica Stockholder is among the most important and respected artists of her generation. As a master of visual composition, she develops abstract, formal work that places emphasis on the palette, textures and forms rather than the identity of the manufactured or recycled consumer products that she uses in her pieces. Her prolific output is astonishing for its constancy and consistency, and has never lost its energy and formal complexity since she burst onto the international scene in the early 1990s.

For Palpable Glyphic Rapture, Jessica Stockholder is presenting a monumental, site-specific work created in situ at 18 rue du Bourg-Tibourg as a response to its glass roof. She will also present a set of "studio" works, a set of seven smaller sculptures. Fond of studying the differences of size and scale between large formats and sculptural compositions of small objects, she is taking inspiration from the gallery's architectural context to transform and structure her modules in the space. It is in relation to the light, construction, place and architecture that her work edges into abstraction and reveals its colour, while the convex security mirrors in #624 Gross National Growth in turn redefine the gallery's spatiality. In the tradition of Robert Rauschenberg's Combine Paintings, and devoid of all nostalgia and narration, Jessica Stockholder turns reality into an abstraction of everyday life by means of a precise and calibrated assembly of hybrid, whimsical forms. The result of this profuse accumulation is ordered and assembled chaos, a device that allows viewers to come to terms with a perfectly mastered and meticulously arranged composition of elements and colours that invites them to redefine their relationship with the objects and space. These exploded scenes and colourful, organic and fragmented surfaces are created by surprising juxtapositions of individual items that give no suggestion of a logical composition. However, the different stages of the construction process are indeed visible and reward the attentive eye, while leaving the foundations of the work apparent. Viewers can move around and through the works to explore them from various standpoints, a practice that is encouraged as they cannot be fully grasped from a single viewpoint: the profusion of the details, the stimulating discrepancies of the textures, and the exhilarating peculiarities of miscellaneous forms can only be appreciated by a multiplicity of perspectives. It is the sum of these different visual moments that will create the most complete and accurate memory of Jessica Stockholder's work.

Her art freely assembles a certain art history of the 20th century and finds fragmented, non-exhaustive echoes from the œuvre of Duchamp, the Dada, Fluxus and Suprematism movements, and in Design, Constructivism and Surrealism. Jessica Stockholder brings together, from the environment of daily life, modest objects representative of a certain Western lifestyle and stripped of their symbolism, then combines them with familiar and immediately available recuperated materials using the simplest of means, using the direct and immediate aesthetic of DIY. The result is a reappropriation not dissimilar to New Realism or the works of Kurt Schwitters or certain members of Pop Art. Color Field painting too finds analogy in the blocks of opaque colour that seem to laminate objects that have themselves been chosen for their shiny or matt finish, their artificial patina or their gaudy appearance. What links these components of the works and consolidates the overall composition is the paint and colour. This chromatic intermediation is skilfully used like architecture and takes its place as one of the primary characteristics of the sculpture.

Dialectical contrasts form the basis of the work, such as order and chaos, empty and filled space, minimalism and complexity, reality and fiction, statics and dynamics, construction and deconstruction. In spite of these opposing pairs, Jessica Stockholder succeeds in creating spatial and pictorial volumes that isolate and split the unity, while repeatedly mobilizing the mass of individual particles. The unstable appearance of these unsteady constructions is a deception. Although the assemblies and materials may seem precarious and the result of unsure aggregation, it is nothing of the sort: paradoxically, Stockholder's works are able to immobilize and transfix ephemeral, fleeting situations of reality, and the apparent possibility of collapse only makes them stronger and more sculptural.