Mindy Shapero "Breaking Open the Head"

Marianne Boesky Gallery 24th Street

poster for Mindy Shapero "Breaking Open the Head"

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Marianne Boesky Gallery presents Breaking Open the Head, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of work by Mindy Shapero. Featuring sculpture and works on paper, the exhibition reveals the artist’s labor-intensive process of mark-making in which both narrative and formalist impulses collide. The show’s title, borrowed from writer Daniel Pinchbeck's treatise on psychedelic shamanism, recalls the otherworldly and transformative qualities inherent to Shapero’s work while also referring to the head-like forms that pervade the exhibition. Once 'broken open,' the head is here considered a profoundly physical thing that indeed transcends the physical plane in thinking, dreaming, and hallucinating.

In a series of sculptures, Shapero addresses the head in varying states of generation and/or dissolution. In one, the concave form is filled with endless pieces of cut paper arranged into swirling rows. The resultant black void slowly reveals itself as based upon a giant face. The similarly shell-like form of another head bears a luminous gold-leafed exterior whose interior is ringed with multi-colored puffy paint. Both works treat the act of looking as an ongoing process of transformation where interiors and exteriors meld as the head becomes a symbolic representation of imaginative flux. Meanwhile, an accompanying sculpture inverts the relationships between form and formlessness seen among the adjacent works. With an exterior covered in barely translucent pieces of cut white paper recalling feathers or fur, the object captures and reflects light—its materiality obliterating the underlying sculptural visage.

Within the rippling surfaces of the sculptures resides an illusion of movement that reappears in another series of large-scale works. Utilizing bent metal rods, Shapero creates frameworks of rotated and stylized profiles. These forms, again incorporating imagery of heads, present drawn silhouettes that seemingly spin in space despite their static nature. Figuration, abstraction, flatness and volume switch places here, and illustrate the transaction between object and the mental processes of the observer’s perception.

In the front gallery, a grouping of totemic smaller-scale sculptures combine the absence and abundance of color present throughout the exhibition. Reminiscent of arches, thresholds, and molecular structures, the works take on performative characteristics when seen in concert. They create narrative associations that are indicative of Shapero's ability to use language as a generative tool paralleled in her often elaborate titles. In recombining materials and techniques seen in the larger works, they also suggest that her practice draws in part from modernist notions of pure formalism. The two tendencies are reconciled as the artist develops fictional narratives as she works, which in turn influence subsequent formal decisions.

The works on paper reflect amalgamations of material and process as the remnants of Shapero’s cut paper sculptures are laid down to create them. Spray-painted and gold-leafed, the resultant negative spaces demarcate densely layered grids, which confuse foreground and background. Though Shapero traces visual histories of materials being put to use, her relationship to the material world is not defined by sheer pragmatism. Rather, she perceives how tangible objects are capable of transporting us beyond ordinary experience, allowing the intangible to be within reach.

Mindy Shapero lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in Like Color in Pictures, Aspen Art Museum, 2007; Diptych: Jockum Nordström and Mindy Shapero, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, 2006;The Uncertainty of Objects and Ideas, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, 2006; Thing, New Sculpture from LA, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2005. Her work was included in Vitamin 3D, published by Phaidon Press in 2009.

[Image: Mindy Shapero "One who knows otherness because you have seen it with your own closed eyes. ((after passing through the portal and loosing your insides) gold and multi colored head)" (2011)]



from September 10, 2011 to October 22, 2011

Opening Reception on 2011-09-10 from 18:00 to 20:00


Mindy Shapero

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