Though many contemporary artists are mining the reservoirs of American design history for direction in their fine art practice, Jim Isermann has long been at the forefront of these concerns. Through wall hangings, hand-woven rugs, fabric-covered sculptural cubes and vinyl-patterned murals he embraces the possibility of utopia in all its aesthetic and functional forms. Isermann’s art practice have fixated on the exchange of visual information between abstraction and design, mixing elements of “high” and “low” styles, celebrating the decorative potential of geometric abstraction and reveals the symbiotic relationship between fine and applied art. Isermann adapts the formal language of minimalism and abstraction to the utilitarian prescriptions of contemporary design: his eye-popping paintings and patterned sculptures flirt with functionality, embodying abstract modernism’s quick evolution into the principles of design.
His practice is currently divided between commissions and studio work. The large scaled commissioned projects employ industrial materials and commercial fabricators and satisfy a career long drive to design art for public spaces. Ideas go back and forth between the commissions and the studio work. The exhibition at Praz-Delavallade presents this two aspect of his work.
Isermann approaches this project using a minimal palette of industrial color and the most economical and efficient materials to deal with the question of how elements in a pattern can be repeated while simultaneously changing their direction. "I'm not interested in an arbitrary pattern; for me it is extremely important how stringently the individual elements are repeated."
A series of four new paintings presented in the space rue Louise Weiss are the third set of 4 produced by the artist in twenty years and began in 2007, the previous body of paintings were from 1987/8. The paintings are latex acrylic paint on canvas over luan and are based on the algorithms that determined some of the multi panel vacuum form projects. "The four are based on the same geometry - its just that the division of the dimensions and the color assignments change. The paintings are painted by hand from drawings made directly on the canvas. Usually masking tape is used to paint the first two colors. The additional colors are painted by hand up to the ridge left by the masking tape. The math represents some kind of perfection and the hand painting the impossibility of achieving that perfection. There is something beautiful and equally melancholy about the attempt. One of the things that drew me back to painting was the introduction of Pantone Paints." In relation with the paintings, a series of eight drawings based on the same algorithms will be presented.
In the second space of the gallery, an installation from 2001 will be on view. The vacuum-formed plastic panels are part of an emblematic project commissioned by The Santa Fe Biennale in 2001. On this occasion, Jim Isermann covered SITE building's facade with 750 vacuum-formed plastic panels, silver squares with rounded corners that create sharply pointed stars at their junctures. He combines the panels to form one modular diamond shape and creating a minimalist structure. It changes color throughout the day, incorporating (through reflection) the ordinary world of public and commercial life around it.
Jim Isermann born 1955, lives and works in Palm Springs. He received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and has been showing actively since 1980 in both solo and group exhibitions. He created numerous commissioned installations for public spaces: UCLA Hammer Museum (2006), Yale University Art Museum (2007), Princeton University (2008). His most recent exhibitions include Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, (2009), Corvi Mora, London (2008), Deitch Projects, New York (2007), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2006), Hammer Museum (2002), Portikus, Frankfurt (2000) and the Magasin, Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble (1999). His work was also included in several group exhibitions: MOMA, New York (2009), MOCA, Los Angeles (2008), Musee d'art et d'histoire, Geneva, (2007). Isermann has received several prestigious awards, among them: The Guggenheim Fellowship (2001), wo National Endowment for the Arts—Visual Arts Fellowships (1987 and 1984) and the California Community Foundation's J. Paul Getty Fellowship for the Visual Arts (1999 ).
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