David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present Casements, an exhibition of new wall- and pedestal-based sculptures by Anthony Pearson, on view July 23 through August 27, 2022. An opening reception will take place on July 22 from 6 to 8 PM.
Anthony Pearson has developed a formal vocabulary informed by photography, painting, and sculpture. For more than twenty years, he has been producing an interrelated body of objects in which subtle evolutions of material, color, and mood elicit meditative looking and quietly immersive perceptual experiences. Recent groups of wall-based sculptures, which he calls Casements and Coupled Casements, are made by pouring pigmented Hydrocal cement into bunched sections of fabric; when the dry cement is removed, finished, and installed on the wall, its shapes and volumes evoke a wide range of geological and organic forms. Upright Casements, works produced in a similar way and installed on pedestals, reveal yet another dimension of these materials—as well as the forces of light and gravity that move and illuminate them.
A careful observer of ambient conditions and a Los Angeles native, Pearson is an artist who channels the spirit of the Light and Space movement. This exhibition, for instance, is a calibrated installation; individual works contribute to an overall composition where the play between luminosity, shadow, physical and visual weight, and the viewer’s eye and body unfolds with quiet intensity. Even when removed from an exhibition context and seen on their own, Pearson’s sculptures imbue their surroundings with a concentrated sense of repose and draw attention to the kinds of fleeting changes that make otherwise static architectural settings come alive.
The Casements, in particular, promote full-body engagement with space. Because they present as shallow relief forms, they read as both images and objects, and emphasize the eye’s status as a physical organ and a translator of ephemeral, light-based impressions. Light, in other words, is given a physical address both in the environment and in the human body. Pearson’s use of color enriches this dynamic even further. In some Casements, he focuses on a single color, as in dramatic all-black works whose complex tonal variations only become apparent upon close inspection. In others, he introduces gentle gradations of warmer or cooler tones, evoking not only the sky at different times of day but also the density, temperature, and feeling of air itself. The space between the object and the wall also becomes an active part of the work. As the viewer moves around it, and as shadows and modulated color shifts unfold throughout the day, the object appears to undergo changes in depth and even spatial orientation, as if hovering closer to or further away from the wall.
In all of these ways, Pearson brings together the earthy and the optical. The Casements’ surfaces read alternately as pure color and as textured accumulations of material. The various fabrics into which the Hydrocal is poured leave impressions, tiny filaments, and striated patterns in the finished works, altering the way light and shadow play across them, as well as the ways in which their silhouettes alter impressions of their volumes. Such effects play a particularly important role in the Coupled and Upright Casements, whose forms are defined by biomorphic curves, palpable relief, and, in the case of the Upright works, negative spaces that invite intimate viewing.
While Pearson has produced pedestal-based works, mostly in bronze at several points throughout his career, the Upright Casements represent the first time he has used Hyrdocal to make objects designed to be installed in open space rather than on the wall. Their ridges and recesses alternately evoke topographical features, animal fossils, or futuristic soft technologies, but like all of the works in this exhibition, they inevitably point back to the active, ultimately unpredictable processes Pearson employs to make them. Each is the result of a controlled pour of a liquid material that eventually hardens, as well as the arrangement of a soft and flexible fabric that leaves its mark on the hard material in more ways than one. Every phase of this choreography involves both movement and stillness: in Pearson’s body as he handles the materials, in the materials themselves as they are manipulated and then allowed to obey the laws of gravity, and in the innumerable acts of perception that register how the object reflects and absorbs the world around it.
Anthony Pearson (b. 1969, Los Angeles) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2012) and Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2008). Institutional group exhibitions include Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014); second nature: abstract photography then and now, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts (2012); and The Anxiety of Photography, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; and Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin, Texas (2011). His work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. In 2019, a comprehensive monograph dedicated to Pearson’s multifaceted work was published by Inventory Press. Pearson lives and works in Los Angeles.