Linda BESEMER - Slabs + Sines
“Strip” Video in Collaboration with Erika Suderburg
Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard is pleased to present Linda Besemer’s first solo exhibition in Europe from 5th September to 17th October 2009.
Besemer exhibits for the first time an ensemble of seven completely new works entitled “Slabs” which mark a remarkable development in her work. This exhibition could also been seen as a mini-retrospective in as much as it also includes some of her signature pieces, pieces representative of her previous work.
Besemer gives painting back its autonomy (the term ‘painting’ understood to mean both artistic expression and the material itself). The history of painting is also the history of its liberation : its liberation with regards to placement and physical support as we have developed from mural painting to painting on wood and then on framed canvas. Liberation with regards to the limitations of natural pigment colours which have been surpassed by acrylic paint.
Besemer creates works using only acrylic paint which acts as a support in itself. The works in the series “Sheets” are layers of acrylic which form a thick sheet of paint which is attached directly to the wall. Using curved lines Besemer creates the illusion of complex relief which acts as a great contrast to the flat reality of the acrylic. Here she exhibits two works from the famous series “Folds” ; a series shown at the Biennale of the Whitney Museum in 2000 and in the other big American museums. They are thick acrylics made up of many layers of paint and contain detail on both sides of the piece which is then hung over a metal bar. These paintings float freely in the space, the motifs on each side of the painting join together creating one single design. The two works demonstrate optical compositions, one with coloured diagonal lines and the other with coloured curved lines which draw out infinite visual spaces.
In the new series “Slabs” Besemer reaches the extreme ambiguity fundamental to painting as a visual illusion. She takes part in this history of art which goes from baroque to OP’art and which leads to a feeling of giddiness. Besemer works from a computer-generated image as she builds up layers of paint and colour. By the simple act of gravity the colours form horizontal layers. These slabs are then sculpted or moulded into curves which reveal various coloured levels. Besemer had to overcome a number of technical problems when creating these works, one of which being getting the paint to dry, the series therefore took two years to be completed. In previous works the relief was created by the play on colours and lines. Today it is the relief which creates the play on colours and lines. The relief creates the form. It renders visible the different colours. Since the curves of colours themselves create the illusion of relief, faced with a reproduction of the work or standing at a distance, one could paradoxically believe the work to be flat.
As the New-York poet and critic, John Yau, so well put it, “Clearly, Besemer is not satisfied by reminding us that a painting is both a surface and a thing. Such painting would smack of airless academicism, and Besemer is about as far from this kind of airlessness as one can get. Her paintings are insouciant and mysterious, subtle and bold. They establish visual continuities between what is seen and what is hidden, between the straight and the curved, and between the stiff and flowing. They open a door onto a realm where speculation and revision, metaphysical thoughts and insights into cultural history, can begin.”
Besemer took part in the exhibition “California Video” at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 2009. She also shoed her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York from January to April 2009 in the exhibition “Synthetics”.