Nahmad Contemporary will present an exhibition exploring the relationship between proto Arte Povera artists Alberto Burri, Cesár, and Lucio Fontana and contemporary artists Dylan Lynch, Alex Perweiler, and Peter Sutherland. The exhibition will open on February 3 and run through March 1, 2014.
The works featured in Strike(s) transform a traditionally destructive act—starting a fire, crushing an object—into an art making technique or comment on the generative capability of those acts. Framing the result of violent actions on pristine materials, the works shift the conventional relationship between art and reality by making a physical action itself into the subject of a work of art. Created nearly five decades apart, the works function similarly in the way they force viewers to meditate on simple, everyday actions by imbuing them with artistic value.
Fontana’s sliced canvases are iconic predecessors of the Arte Povera movement. Fontana painted monochromatic canvases and used a knife to create one or several slashes in them. The works are at once brutal and graceful, recalling the destructive forces that were used to create them but ultimately resulting in sophisticated compositions. Similarly, Perweiler’s enlarged images of used matchboxes highlight the scattered dust and faded, dark strip that remains in place after a matchbox has been struck and discarded. The works frame the artistic—but rarely considered—image that is created through the quick, forceful action of striking a match.
Both Cesár and Lynch create dynamic sculptures by crushing utilitarian metal objects. Cesar’s compressed cars and Lynch’s imploded barrels are produced by applying powerful forces to strong materials. While the final pieces show the power and impact of those forces, they also appear almost delicate in their folded, intricate shapes.
Burri burned paper, canvas, vinyl, and plastic in order to transform the color, shape, and texture of the simple materials. He then used the materials as the medium for three-dimensional compositions, which often hung on the wall like traditional canvases but had layered, sculptural qualities. Sutherland’s printed wood panels show vibrant images of fires, creating the illusion that the works are in the midst of their own destruction.
Lynch, Perweiler, and Sutherland are members of The Still House Group, a self-governing organization of emerging artists based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Working in a shared studio space and collaborating on exhibitions and other projects, The Still House Group’s work formalizes the emphasis on the artist community that fueled the Arte Povera movement.