Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to present stuff change, a solo exhibition of work by Amy Sillman, on view at the gallery from February 4 to March 12, 2016.
The exhibition will feature a selection of new oil paintings, two dozen individual works on paper, a wall of smaller drawings, and a cycle of paintings that begin as inkjet-printed canvases.
In German, the word for "metabolism" is stoffwechsel—literally “stuff change.” The artist, currently living part-time in Germany, is interested in the idea of the metabolism as an analogy for both the making and the viewing of painting. Metabolism: a process by which the body changes something from one form to another, the work of the body itself, a process of breaking things down--which could also be called a form of abstraction. This brings the artist to the question: what is the work of a painting? In a recent essay in Frieze d/e, Sillman says: "I would call it a metabolism: the intimate and discomforting process of things changing as they go awry, [as they] look uncomfortable, have to be confronted, repaired, or risked, i.e. trying to figure something out while doing it." This finding of form and de-formation, transformation, destruction and re-building renders paintings that are both delicate and tough.
Sillman began making animated digital drawings in 2010, and found in animation an avenue for extending over time the process of finding forms and narratives that her drawings have been doing all along. Now, her analog working method clearly indicates the interwoven logic of painting time versus filmic time. Her paintings incorporate both fast-moving changes as well as a slow, almost archeological accretion of dense layers often continuously changing for over a year. Rather than endpoints, her paintings propose forms and materials in flux—suggesting a continuously changing future.
With her newest working method Sillman sets canvases printed with her own drawings next to each other like animation cels, and paints loosely on top, thus blurring distinctions between the handmade, the digitally modified, and the mechanically reproduced. Inkjet on canvas is commonly used in contemporary painting as way to include photographic work, but Sillman uses her own drawings as the base, and then loops back to hand-made marks on top, thus returning to the beginning again and again. In doing so, she reveals the self-reflexive aspects of time and process in painting, and asks the viewer to look at painting not as a final product, but as a vital process.
Amy Sillman earned her BFA in 1979 from the School of Visual Arts, New York and her MFA in 1995 from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. She has received numerous awards and grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Louise Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship in the Visual Arts from the American Academy in Berlin. Her work has been exhibited widely and is included in the collections of many prestigious institutions including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Sillman’s first museum survey, one lump or two, premiered at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in October 2013. The exhibition, curated by Helen Molesworth, also traveled to the Aspen Museum of Art and the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College. A hardcover catalogue published by Prestel accompanied the exhibition.
Sillman currently splits her time between New York and Germany where she is Professor of Painting at Frankfurt’s Städelschule.