David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present new paintings by Lesley Vance and a selection of works from the 1960s and ’70s by Czech artist Anna Zemánková (1908-1986) at Art Basel Hong Kong 2022. The presentation will not only mark the first time that these two artists have been shown together, but will also be the most focused exhibition of each of their respective works in Asia to date. It will also call attention to visual, art historical, and philosophical correspondences that unite their projects despite the generational divide that separates them, revealing parallels in patterning and compositional intensity, but also—and perhaps most importantly—in emotional and intellectual impact. The booth will provide a sensitive and illuminating introduction to the work of two genre-defying artists, as well as a springboard for new critical approaches to the development of twentieth- and twenty-first-century painting.
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Vance’s and Zemánková’s respective approaches to abstraction can be read through interpretive frameworks associated with abstract expressionism, surrealism, and other canonical legacies, as well as the lenses of individualist and idiosyncratic visions that are entirely their own. The work of both artists is filled with forms whose organic modeling offers clear parallels to the natural world; their non-objective subjects carry the weight and presence of real things, even as they exude an alien unlikeliness that prevents them from being mistaken for representational images
Zemánková, whose work was included in Il palazzo enciclopedico, 55th Venice Biennale, Italy (2013), is a singular figure in the development of postwar art. Though she did not train as an artist and produced the bulk of her work after she turned fifty, her biomorphic images synthesize many of the main aesthetic currents that defined her time—and, it is increasingly apparent, our own. If at first glance they appear to depict fantastic flora and other naturally occurring forms, they soon reveal complex, interwoven spaces and sophisticated juxtapositions of color and texture. They also speak with surprising prescience to the concerns of many painters, active over the last twenty years, who have sought to expand the psychological and spiritual terrains in which abstraction is made and seen.
Vance, one of the foremost artists of her generation to work precisely in this area, has become recognized for compositions that carry the force and light of representational art. Her visual language combines swooping forms clearly derived from intuitive gestures; complex volumetric effects and surprising spatial arrangements; a refined sense of the materiality of color; and moments when illusion falls away and immediate facts of pigment and medium come to the fore. Over the last few years, Vance has experimented with dramatic increases in scale, creating paintings that invite relationship with the body as well as the eye, even as their areas of saturated color maintain strong measures of opticality. One of these large canvases is seen here alongside a bracing new group of intimately scaled works whose interactions between paint and support reveal them to be among the most paradoxically expansive of Vance’s works.
Lesley Vance (b. 1977, Milwaukee) has been the subject of solo and two-person exhibitions at the FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2012); Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Bowdoin, Maine (2012); and Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California (with Ricky Swallow, 2012). Vance has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, such as Aftereffect: O’Keeffe and Contemporary Painting, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2019); Painter Painter, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013); and Whitney Biennial 2010, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Milwaukee Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, among many others. In 2019, Gregory R. Miller & Co. published a monograph surveying the last five years of Vance’s work. Vance lives and works in Los Angeles.
For more information on Lesley Vance, please click here.
Originally trained as a dentist, Anna Zemánková (b. 1908, Olomouc, Czechoslovakia; d. 1986, Prague, Czech Republic), exhibited her artwork during her lifetime in solo and group exhibitions in Czechoslovakia. In 2017, she was the subject of a solo exhibition at Collection de l'art Brut, Lausanne. Anatomia Metamorphosis, a 2011 solo exhibition that originated at Museum Montanelli, Prague, also traveled to Saarländische Galerie, Berlin; Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan; and Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan. In recent years, she has also been included in many shows dedicated to art brut and outsider art, as well as international survey exhibitions such as Il palazzo enciclopedico, 55th Venice Biennale, Italy (2013), and solo exhibitions at galleries including Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York and Christian Berst Gallery, Paris.
For more information on Anna Zemánková, please click here.
Lesley Vance artwork photography by Fredrik Nilsen Studio
Anna Zemánková artwork photography by Jeff McLane
Studio photography by Elon Schoenholz
Video by Jeremy Eichenbaum
Book featured in video: Anna Zemánková, published under the direction of Terezie Zemánková, Prague: Kant, ABCD, 2017, 300 pages.
Banner image: Anna Zemánková in her apartment, Prague, 1980, Photo: Jan Reich. Archives de la Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne.