Suzanne McClelland “PLAYLIST”

Marianne Boesky Gallery (24th Street)

poster for Suzanne McClelland “PLAYLIST”

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Marianne Boesky Gallery presents PLAYLIST, Suzanne McClelland’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. For the past 30 years, Suzanne McClelland’s paintings, drawing, collaborative unbound books, multiples and prints have explored the visual, linguistic and acoustic dimensions of language.

In her newest series of paintings, PLAYLIST, McClelland approaches language through music, organizing lists and conjoining names of musicians to suggest language as a form of portraiture. Performers are paired based on aural affinities in their music, dissolving the factors of genre or category. McClelland approaches text as abstraction bringing to light the porous nature of identity. Since names are inherently abstract, and in this case proper names, they are only imbued with meaning once attached to a person. McClelland’s interest lies in parsing the gap between a name and its physicality; searching for what a name represents. The canvases become a place for inscription, akin to graffiti, a map, or initials carved into a tree. The materiality of McClelland’s paintings echoes this gesture as she employs polymers, dry pigments, archival glitter, and graphite to excavate meaning within their surface.

Reflecting back on her early experience as a photographer and the chemistry in the dark room, McClelland’s material dissection similarly allows the final image to come into view slowly, almost magically as her framed subject emerges. The visual qualities of the names themselves create formal relationships within the canvas, asking the traditional structure of the grid to dissolve, shifting to accommodate pure color and the form of the letters. On the backs of the canvases, McClelland has collaged a collection of photographs of each performer, providing another set of data to inform the abstraction while relegating any direct representation.

The very act of creating a playlist is a personal one, and here, McClelland posits playlists as a form of both personal and collective memoir. In offering a list of names, the artist invites the viewer to bring their own memories and experiences of these performers to the work, suggesting a shared history built through music.

McClelland (b. Jacksonville, FL) participated in the 1993 and 2014 Whitney Biennials where she worked closely with Education/Outreach programs. She has been the subject of solo museum presentations at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, The University of Virginia Museum of Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. Awards and residencies include the Guggenheim Fellowship (2019), Anonymous Was A Woman, Nancy Graves Foundation, PS1-Clocktower, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Lab Grant Residency-Dieu Donne Papermill, Urban Glass, and residencies in Stykkisholmur, Iceland, and Troedsson Villa, Nikko, Japan. McClelland is deeply invested in her work as a long-standing educator and visiting artist at Rutgers University, Columbia University, Yale University, MICA, SVA and Cooper Union and served on the board of Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.



from May 04, 2021 to June 05, 2021

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