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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present Richard Serra: Expressions in Printmaking, held in collaboration with master print maker and publisher Gemini G.E.L. in New York City. The exhibition opens January 13th and will run through February 17th, 2024.
Since 1972, Richard Serra has been working with Gemini G.E.L. to create and invent new techniques in the medium, leading to a varied output of richly textured graphic works. Printmaking has been an extension of Serra’s artistic explorations of surface, line, balance, mass, and volume as evoked in his monumentally-scaled sculptures.
The exhibition will feature monochromatic prints from various series executed by Serra in the last six years. The most recent body of prints, his Casablanca series, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the artist’s collaboration with Gemini G.E.L. Contradictorily, this series of prints were not passed through a printing press. Instead, two layers of oil stick, etching ink and silica mixture were applied to enormous sheets of Japanese handmade paper specific to the project. Each layer required weeks to dry before the subsequent layer could be applied. The surfaces in the Casablanca series are thicker and more richly textured than any of Serra’s previous oil stick prints, with each impression weighing nearly 20 pounds. The shapes, filling almost the entire sheet, are as dynamic, elegant, and as physical as his sculptures.
By contrast, the Horizontal Reversals, are narrow rectangular presentations which explore the relationship between two abutting sheets of hand-made Igarashi-Hiromo Kozo paper and their abstracted compositions. Each work consists of two sheets placed side by side and the area that is left bare on the left side is reciprocally inked on the right sheet. The area that is maintained as bare paper on the left panel echoes the black material on the right panel, and the area that is covered in black material on the left panel is mirrored by the bare paper on the right. These reversal works are formal explorations of balance between light and dark and reflect the artist’s longstanding interest in the physical versus the cognitive perception of form.
In his Equals series Serra also pairs two rectangular panels of handmade Japanese paper, however the approach, execution and visual result is quite different from the Horizontal Reversals. In these works, multiple layers of Paintstik have been applied to the paper, covering the entire sheets from edge to edge. The corresponding sheet panels are equal in area dimensions, yet they appear to differ in size depending on their orientation. This series relates directly to a forged steel sculpture Serra completed in 2015, where he manipulated and readjusted the equal mass to seemingly appear unequal in weight and size. Along with the density and light absorbing nature of Paintstik, these prints conjure the massively forged steel blocks, evoking what the artist calls “the psychological effects of weight.”
Another series in the exhibition, Composites, uses etching and screen printing to masterfully extend the artist’s explorations of texture and composition. By combining these two printing techniques onto paper, Serra is able to render a rhythmic play on density, depth and saturation. Although adhering to his strict use of all-black pigment, close examination of the mottled surfaces in this series reveals subtle and unexpected tonal and pattern variations. These distinctions are arrived through the applied variations in colored etching inks, graphite and Paintstik. As a series, these beautifully nuanced works present their own distinct vernacular of balance between color and texture.
"The prints are,” Serra has said, "studies made after a sculpture has been completed. They are the result of trying to assess and define what surprises me in a sculpture, what I could not understand before a work was built. They enable me to understand different aspects of perception as well as the structural potential of a given sculpture. I have always thought that if I could draw something, I would have a structural comprehension of it. I do not draw to depict, illustrate, or diagram existing works. The shapes originate in a glimpse of a volume, a detail, an edge, a weight. Drawing in that sense amounts to an index of structures I have built."
Richard Serra is one of the most important and audacious artists of our time. His prints are alternative forms of expressions that are distillations of his gargantuan sculptures and, because of their limited output, are highly sought after by collectors.
Born in San Francisco in 1939, Serra has been exhibiting extensively in major museums and is globally known for his site-specific sculptures in private and public collections. Serra was the subject of two retrospectives at MoMA in 1986 and 2007. Other major solo exhibitions have been held at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; American Academy in Rome, Italy; St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri; Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Italy; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; Le Grand Palais, Paris, France; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Art, California; Brouq Nature Reserve, Qatar, among others. He participated in dOCUMENTA in 1972, 1977, 1982 and 1987 and in the Biennale di Venezia in 1980, 1984, 2011 and 2013. In 2015, Serra was awarded Les Insignes de Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, France. Serra lives and works in New York and Nova Scotia, Canada.
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