“Of The Times” and Other Historic Works
Jessica Silverman Gallery is pleased to inaugurate its new, expanded location at 488 Ellis Street with an exhibition of historic work by Amikam Toren.
Amikam Toren is an innovative conceptual artist whose practice incorporates the destruction of ready-made objects that are then resurrected in his own paintings and sculptures. Toren’s thirty-five-year oeuvre is in a rigorous and witty dialogue with a compelling range of international art movements, such as Arte Povera, Gutai, Minimalism, and Pop. Born in Israel and based in London, the 68-year-old artist has exhibited widely in Europe but, remarkably, this is his first solo show in America.
Of the Times is a series of large-scale paintings created between 1983 and 1993 that depict monumental, sometimes indiscernible letters, made from pigment derived from pulped editions of The [London] Times. The masthead of each obliterated newspaper is displayed beside the canvas that displays its remains. These “labels” draw attention to the disparate realities of disposable daily papers versus timeless paintings and to the way the artist has distilled hundreds of column inches of text into a single consonant or vowel. Open to myriad interpretations, Toren’s Of the Times works suggest an ironic search for the ineffable, fundamental ur-language of painting.
Although Toren’s Stack sculptures bear witness to an analogous process, the end results point in a different aesthetic direction. Between 1984 and 1995, the artist cut out one side of a cardboard box, grinded and macerated it with pigment, then painted the mixture onto a small canvas, which he then stretched over the absent side of the box. The painted image always captures some aspect of the original boxes by blowing up graphics or reworking numbers and phrases like “This way up.” These emblems are transformed, as Sarah Kent writes, into “hauntingly eloquent mediations on the fragility of things.” These poetically untidy towers, which rise above their former life as containers of consumer durables, cast a sly backward glance at Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes and foreshadow the cardboard extravaganzas of Thomas Hirschhorn.
In his Of The Times paintings and his Stack sculptures, Amikam Toren halts the flow of fast-moving throwaway goods, annihilating then reinventing them as forms with epic proportions and subtly heroic physical presences.
The exhibition runs from November 22, 2013 through January 19, 2014.