For almost four decades Kay Rosen has applied the visual strategies of color, spacing, composition, material, elements of graphic design, and scale to written language to make drawings, collages, paintings, editions, and wall installations that challenge the way that we read and understand language.
The current body of work – consisting of acrylic gouache paintings on watercolor paper, paintings on similarly proportioned canvases, and one wall installation – represents a shift in the way that Rosen considers the relationship between the text and the support. In previous paintings and drawings, the size and shape of the canvas or paper conformed to the size and shape of the text. Conversely, the texts in her wall installations were customized to fit the available space. For the works in Blingo, the text and space, content and site (including horizontal, vertical, and diagonal orientation, height and width, corners and edges), are treated equally, and are more integrated. For example, in Rust Colored Belt the reddish-brown words of the title are painted horizontally across the middle of the paper, suggesting a horizon line of a decaying steel landscape as well as a fashion accessory around the girth of a body. In both scenarios – terrain and torso – the support and the text are mutually dependent.
The wall painting Monuments is composed of the word “obelisk” painted vertically floor-to-ceiling intersecting at the letter “s” with the word “odalisk” stretching horizontally across the wall. The careful composition of the two words together establishes a parity between the vertical and horizontal texts, as Rosen explains: “Vertical does not trump horizontal; nor upright, prostrate. Male does not trump female. Sculpture does not trump painting. The representation of both ODALISKS and OBELISKS throughout the history of art is equally iconic and illustrious. Any perceived hierarchy is supplied by the viewer.”
A catalogue with a text written by the artist will accompany the exhibition.