Galerie Nathalie Obadia is pleased to present the work of American artist Jessica Stockholder, who is currently featured in a variety of projects at Centre Pompidou: the artist is participating in the exhibition Elles font l’abstraction and is presenting a large installation in the museum’s forum. She is also curating Jessica Stockholder: Cut a rug a round square at the OGR - Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin.
The exhibition at the gallery, the seventh in the artist’s career, reveals a series of works on paper, «bas reliefs» made according to a pure craft tradition during an artist residency in Nepal in 2019.
Invited by the art production company Kathmandu Projects, Jessica Stockholder spent several weeks in the Nepalese capital learning about the technique of Lokta paper-making in a workshop on a hill overlooking the city centre. The paper is made from the fibrous bark of the lokta, a type of local evergreen plant also known as Daphne.
The experience was both an artist residency and a cultural retreat, and the murals created are material witnesses to the experience, reflecting the atmosphere of the city and the artist’s personal impressions.
«It was a wonderful work experience like no other. The paper pulp was mixed in large vats buried in the ground and then set out to dry on screens spread over the sunny hillside. I was able to experiment mixing the paper pulp with colour, and a variety of materials found in the city. Each work grew out of the place, in response to the people I was fortunate to be working with, alongside my observations of Kathmandu, and inspired by the meanings embedded in the materials I found. These works took shape between the sloping ground I was standing on and the vibrant face of the culture around me.»
In these wall works whose plasticity is close to bas-relief, paper is no longer a support but a paste that serves as a glue, a binder, and freezes a variety of salvaged objects within itself: fabrics, ingredients, scraps of a very dense urban life, found in the streets and markets of the city. A tangle of used telephone wires and cables saturating the urban landscape of Kathmandu, bits of sari cloths, banana leaves, climbing ropes... Their distribution in the material, in harmony with the dyes made by the artist, forms abstract and joyfully anarchic compositions, giving a large place to texture and colour.
Although extremely «site-specific» and unprecedented, this work fits easily into the practice of Jessica Stockholder, considered since the 1980s as one of the pioneers of contemporary art producing singular installations, between accumulation and chaos. The fruit of recycling and recovery process, her works blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture, reality and abstraction, while delicately embodying, through the reign of objects, the poetry of daily life.