“Apfelbaum's work is both painting and sculpture, and perhaps photography and fashion and formless material process as well. It’s all these things – wildly so and wildly not so.” Lane Relyea, ‘What Does Love Have To Do With It’ (Catalog)
Polly Apfelbaum’s abstract ‘fallen paintings’ are pieces arranged on the floor and made with crushed or stretched synthetic velvet or, most recently, sequined fabric – material used in fashion, craft and decoration, not art. “The sequins are the most active material I’ve ever used – they catch light, and if the light reflects they can even disappear. Some are dented and produce a different reflection – kind of holographic. It’s like cheap magic.” Referring to her works as ‘situational’ the artist says that these are made in reaction to the place.
There is an element of performance, and the pieces exist only for the duration of the show. Linear and controlled – almost painterly in her approach – Apfelbaum looks for informal arrangements: something direct and immediate, spontaneous even, but not random.
Polly Apfelbaum has been showing consistently in New York and abroad since her first one-person show in New York 1986. A major mid-career survey of her work opened in 2003 at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. The show traveled through 2004, and a catalogue surveying 15 years of work was published by ICA.
Apfelbaum has held solo exhibitions at Milton Keynes Gallery, UK (2009); Locks Gallery, Philadelphia (2008); Frith Street Gallery, London, (2007); Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, (2007); Solvent Space, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (2007); Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Vienna, (2005); D'Amelio-Terras Gallery, New York (2005); Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, (2004); Triple Candi, New York, (2003); and Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, (2003).
Her work has been featured recently in important group exhibitions including: Comic Abstraction and Lines and Grids, Stains, and Words, both at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, (2007); Pink, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Bombay, (2007); Welcoming the Flowers, with John Giorno, Senior & Shopmaker, New York, (2007); Extreme Abstraction, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, (2005); The Shape of Colour, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, (2005); A Kind of Bliss, The Drawing Room, London (2004); Flowers Observed, Flowers Transformed, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2004); Lodz Biennale, Poland, (2004); and The Ideal City, Biennale de Valencia, Spain (2003)