Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent work by Joel Shapiro. On view will be new sculptures demonstrating a breadth of material, scale and form, as well as a selection of ink drawings on paper. The exhibition will be presented at 521 West 21st Street from March 24th through April 28th, 2018. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, March 24th from 6 to 8pm.
Since his earliest one-person shows, presented at Paula Cooper Gallery in 1970 and 1972, Joel Shapiro has created work that activates and reconfigures space using his iconic vocabulary of geometric forms, shifting figural and nonreferential implications, and subtle manipulations of scale. Constructed from wood and painted a lustrous blue, his new monumental sculpture surges upward from the ground, bearing traces of gestural improvisation. Composed of four irregularly stacked polyhedral shapes, the work invites the viewer to engage with the gallery space, as its multifaceted planes advance and recede out of view. Similarly, Shapiro’s wall relief and suspended sculptures are assembled from geometric wood elements joined to form multiaxial projections. Unfolding in time and space, the works externalize thought in material, form, and color. Leaving the striated texture of the underlying wood structures partially visible, Shapiro covers the works with supersaturated casein paint. In the catalogue to his 1982 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Shapiro stated: “The idea of thinking in color always interested me. If you are a sculptor and you use color, the color has to mean something, do something to change your perception of the piece. Cobalt violet obfuscates form and blue withdraws. Cadmium red and black both add density.”
In another room of the gallery, small cast bronze works—evoking a charred table and created from a dismembered draftsmen’s mannequin—are presented on an intimate scale, recalling early works of Shapiro’s from the 1970s. Their scarred surfaces and mutated forms invoke melancholic psychological narratives. And yet, the works maintain an obdurate sense of object-ness, translated to schematic abstract forms: “There’s a spatial or temporal proximity that induces the mind to perceive it in relation to its surroundings, while on the other hand [the work is seen] as a complete volumetric structure on the surface.”
Also on view is a selection of recent ink drawings, for which Shapiro employs loose, expressionistic brushwork to build a shifting, atmospheric dimensionality. Creating some as pairs by overlaying a clean sheet of paper onto a wet drawing, Shapiro transfers its mirror image—which he then develops further through the addition of ink or the reorientation of the paper. Applying a range of tones from buoyant vivid chroma to bereaved grays and blacks, the works explore a multiplicity of affectual and perceptual associations.