Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to announce The Written Trace, a group exhibition curated by Ariella Wolens, on view at 293 Tenth Avenue from June 25 – August 14, 2015. Including works by canonical figures John Baldessari, William N. Copley, Martin Kippenberger and Ed Ruscha, as well as contemporary artists such as Katerina Jebb, Goshka Macuga, Brian O’Doherty and Song Dong, among others. This exhibition focuses on the indefinable aspect of the medium of text. It is an exploration of that which is communicated through sight, a consideration of the visual qualities of words as we abstract them from their connotations.
There is a progression of mediums, beginning with the painted word, as seen in the early Christian illuminated text, The Hours of Jacques Hurault, 1500-1510. The calligraphic inscriptions are written in the style of bâtarde, a technique later echoed in the work of Evan McGraw and Zachary Susskind. The correspondence of image and text here demonstrates archaic forms of illustration, a critical aspect of this subject that is later championed in contemporary art by the comics of R. Crumb.
Written text as an aesthetic element of art became crucial in the 1960s and 70s, particularly in the work of John Baldessari. In the artist’s film, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, 1977, repetition of a declarative statement dictates the structure of the work, offering a connection between language and the medium of film. Evan McGraw’s works on paper from 2014, License, Blizzard, and Number 5, reflect the outcome of Baldessari’s repetitive hand-written works, yet greater importance is placed on calligraphic skill and the materials - parchment paper and eternal ink. Ed Ruscha, perhaps the master of textual representation in contemporary art, treats words as objects. In this exhibition, the prefix ‘Strato’ is presented against a field of color that shifts from red to black. Disconnected from its base, the word may be appreciated for its formal qualities. The letters are imposed across the length of the canvas, made to highlight what the artist calls the ‘rolling roundness’ of the letters.
If language is dependent on correlations of knowledge, the only universal aspect of writing is the pure signification of the textual mark. With the endless subjectivity of linguistic meaning, the only grasp on language is the written trace left upon a page.
Artists included in this exhibition are John Baldessari, Phoebe Collings-James, William N. Copley, Shaun Crawford, R. Crumb, Katerina Jebb, Deborah Kass, Martin Kippenberger, Dylan Kraus, Goshka Macuga, Evan McGraw, John Miller, Ivan Navarro, Brian O’Doherty, Oliver Osborne, Dieter Roth & Björn Roth, Ed Ruscha, Rose Salane, Mira Schendel, Song Dong, and Zachary Susskind.
Ariella Wolens is a writer and curator based in New York City. She received her Master’s Degree in Curating and Criticism of Modern Art from Columbia University and in January 2014 curated Bloody English at OHWOW Gallery in Los Angeles. Wolens is the arts editor for Hot and Cool, an independent magazine based in London. She has written for publications including Acne Paper, Dazed & Confused, i-D, and Purple Fashion Magazine.