Hilary Berseth “Names will never hurt me”

Van Doren Waxter

poster for Hilary Berseth “Names will never hurt me”
[Image: Hilary Berseth "Cleaved Slates Stacked" (2017-2018) Graphite and fixative on paper, 23 x 18 x 18 in.]

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Van Doren Waxter presents an exhibition of new three-dimensional works on paper by Hilary Berseth. This intimate presentation of sculptural objects is the artist’s fourth exhibition with the gallery and underscores his formal interests in nature, materiality, structure, and perception.

Berseth meticulously arranges pencil drawings in three dimensions to create hybrid sculptural works that play with the two-dimensional limitations of the paper. The suite includes constructions with precise rendering and shading to create planar trompe l’oeil objects, such as Cleaved Slates Stacked (2017-2018), in which graphite-shaded paper could be mistaken for weathered stones, stacked and balanced around an impossible center of gravity.

The sculptures’ imagery is inspired by natural objects collected near the artist’s home in rural Pennsylvania: rocks, branches, and bones found in the woods and fields surrounding Tohickon Creek. Painstaking shading, added in layered passes, defines cleavages in argillite slate, small lichens, and fissures in bone; the accumulation of these renderings connects these seemingly familiar objects to a distinct place and history.

Each work seeks a parallel between the paper’s inherent properties and the natural form of the object being depicted. With that relationship in mind, the source material for the images is collected, then provisionally mapped onto a model. In pursuit of a seamless pairing of paper and object, the paper model is repeatedly revised until the source material corresponds precisely with the planar arrangement of its three-dimensional paper architecture. Building from this vocabulary of imagery and drawing technique, the artist’s investigations ultimately invite the viewer to witness our own slips in perception and consider our own seeing, or as Berseth writes, “to look more closely and discover some stark beauty of a forgotten place.”

HILARY BERSETH (b. 1979) lives and works in Bucks County, PA. Berseth was educated at Columbia University, NY (BA). His work has been included exhibitions such as Beyond Human at the Peabody Essex Museum, MA; and Wax: Sensation in Contemporary Sculpture at Kunsforeningen GL Strand, Copenhagen. Reviews and articles on his work have appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and The Village Voice, among others.



from February 21, 2019 to March 30, 2019

Opening Reception on 2019-02-21 from 18:00 to 20:00


Hilary Berseth

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