L&M Arts is pleased to present Neo Povera, a group show that explores the contemporary legacy of Arte Povera and the politics of material. This exhibition offers a selection of recent works united by a common conceptual approach to re-examining the formal constraints of artistic practice brought on the commercialization of art and ideas. Continuing a radial dialogue that challenged the traditional trajectory of acceptable art, this show explores new materials and methodologies that have evolved in the almost fifty years since the term was first coined.
Emerging in the late 1960s, Arte Povera, literally poor art, described a generation of artists committed to exploring the aesthetics of ephemeral and accessible materials while working outside of a ferociously consuming market in an effort to dissolve boundaries between an elite art and a collective experience. In “Notes For a Guerrilla War”, the manifesto that outlined the intentions of the original movement, Germano Celant wrote:
“Over there is a complex art, over here a poor art, committed to contingency, to events, to the non-historical, to the present… to an anthropological viewpoint, to the ‘real’ man, and to the hope (in fact now the certainty) of being able to shake entirely free of every visual discourse that presents itself as univocal and consistent. Consistency is a dogma that has to be transgressed, and the univocal belongs to the individual and not to ‘his’ images and products.”
By nature, this movement is neither time specific nor rooted in the particular conditions of its day. Rather, these are sentiments that can be applied to the desire to create objects of simple and intrinsic value, free of pomp and circumstance. It reminds us that we should not allow history to confine art to its predetermined conclusions nor reductively categorize works in an imposed lineage. Instead, we are called to look at the works as the assemblage of our surroundings, rooted in the honest structure of an artist’s chosen materials.
In the time since its inception, the increased momentum of the market and the changes in our everyday functions due to technological advancements (as well as shifts in household behavior and manufacturing) have created new source material to examine this increasingly relevant sentiment. Items such as plastic, which has taken on a intensified role in our daily life since the tubular neon works of Mario Merz, are featured in Karla Black’s ethereal cellophane sculpture, Spared The Sight, 2012 and Tom Driscoll’s Flip, 2013 and Bulkhead, 2005. The latter reimagines the structure of machinery by swamping cold metal parts from appliances at the underwater research laboratory in Point Loma where he worked as a night janitor and industrial packaging materials used to protect and display consumer products for buoyant, animated versions made from colorful resin mixtures. The discourse concerning found objects in art, forwarded by artists such as Jannis Kounellis, is readdressed in works including Virginia Overton’s Untitled (Sandbag), 2013, comprised of wood, rope, and, accordingly, a sandbag.
In addition, a diverse array of materials will be represented, including Anicka Yi’s Untitled, 2013, a wall work made from soap, a large sculpture from Tara Donovan’s mylar experiments, and a series of porcelain cast styrofoam forms by Patrick Meagher. This exhibition will make use of the gallery’s sizable garden area to include a site-specific sculpture, Andy Ralph’s Manifold Destiny, 2013, that can be seen from Venice Boulevard, as well as Marianne Vitale’s Standard Crossing (1), 2013, an erect, repurposed railroad frog. In late June, Aki Sasamoto will perform one of her eponymous ‘lecture’ works based on the concept of Neo Povera. Sasamoto’s sculpture Clear Idea Bubbles, 2013, a series of plastic recycling bags that have been on display since the opening of the exhibition, will be activated with the notes, drawings, and written gestures from her lesson.
Neo Povera is curated by Harmony Murphy and includes works by Ana Bidart, Karla Black, Jed Caesar, Joshua Callaghan, Tara Donovan, Tom Driscoll, Brendan Fowler, Luca Frei, Johannes Girardoni, Liz Glynn, Jiri Kovanda, Maya Lin, Erik Lindman, Patrick Meagher, Virginia Overton, Ester Partegas, GT Pellizzi, Andy Ralph, Cordy Ryman, Aki Sasamoto, Marianne Vitale, Heidi Voet, Anicka Yi and Anton Zolotov.