Kasmin is pleased to present an exhibition of James Nares’ newest body of work, entitled Monuments, on view at 509 West 27th Street between May 23 – June 29, 2019. New York City's oldest surviving downtown sidewalks were made almost 200 years ago by immigrant masons who lined the streets with giant paving stones of solid granite. These monolithic slabs they then chiseled with improvised marks and designs, to prevent pedestrians from slipping. These carvings have withstood the erosion of time and foot traffic, leaving a record of free thought and personal markings from the hands and minds of long-forgotten workmen.
Nares made wax frottage rubbings of selected stones and brought them back to his studio where he gilded them with 22-carat gold. Hanging vertically on the wall, they are shining monuments to whom he calls, "the unknown souls whose touch still lingers on the city's sidewalks."
Continuing Nares' lifelong investigation into motion, time and gesture —the "central conceits of Nares' artistic production"1 —these works register the topography of the city which has acted as protagonist and collaborator throughout his oeuvre, notably in films such as Ramp (1976) and STREET (2011). Tracing the materiality of lower Manhattan, where Nares has lived and worked since the 1970s, the works spotlight immigrant labor and its integral place in the fabric of the city.