David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the 10th Anniversary Edition of Independent New York with a solo presentation of new paintings by Markus Amm. The project will be dedicated to the Geneva-based artist’s intimately scaled gesso board works. Created by pouring thin layers of richly pigmented paint onto a prepared surface over long periods of time, these paintings are powerful objects whose radiant compositions elicit meditative concentration, and whose making represents an intuitively balanced position between chance and control.
Rarely exhibited in New York, Markus Amm’s work charts a sustained and highly focused development that has taken place over the course of 20 years. Amm is part of a generation of European painters who came to wider attention in Formalismus, a landmark 2004 exhibition at the Kunstverein in Hamburg, and who began to question the dominance of conceptual methodologies in the wake of the 1990s. He approaches abstraction as a materials-based process rather than an ideological mode, one in which the constituent elements of painting, as well as a work’s entire physical context (support, hanging apparatus, architecture), are considered part of its subject matter.
Each of the gesso board paintings begins with meticulous preparation of the surface; the artist applies numerous layers of gesso medium over a board stretched with linen to achieve the smooth, matte, tactile finish that is the foundation for the subsequent composition, as well as the quasi-sculptural formations on its edges that will play an important role in the finished work. He then begins pouring paint with the prepped board laid flat on the floor, initiating the composition with a basic guiding principle (a shape, color combination, or spatial idea, for instance), and allowing the pigmented medium to flow over the panel's sides, providing dynamic contrast between the illusionistic fields eventually opened up within the compositions and the frank materiality of the gesso boards as objects which hang on the wall.
These brief periods of action are followed by extended periods of observation that can last anywhere from days to years, during which the paint dries––the relative weight of each pigment means that some will settle beneath others, complicating the relationship between transparency and opacity––and the next move is considered. The painting slowly asserts its own character; Amm responds to this emerging composition, sanding it down and occasionally intervening more dramatically with one or more brushstrokes or other discrete gestures. The results weave together an encompassing group of art historical lineages, including the atmospheric landscape traditions of German and English Romanticism, the material primacy of minimalist painting and sculpture, and the improvisatory openness of abstract expressionism. At the same time, they open up new possibilities for viewing in the here and now, transforming the viewer’s perception of the spaces in which they hang, and functioning as windows into ethereal and luminous vistas of the imagination.
Markus Amm (b. 1967, Stuttgart, Germany) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel, Switzerland (2017) and Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany (2010). His work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014); Die Geometrie der Dinger, GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen, Germany (2013); Only here: The Federal Republic of Germany's Contemporary Art Collection Acquisitions from 2007 to 2011, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany (2013); Actual Fact / Factual Fact, Märkisches Museum Witten, Germany (2011); Neuer Konstruktivismus, Bielefelder Kunstverein, Museum Waldhof, Germany (2007); Dereconstruction, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2006); and Formalismus, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany (2004). Amm lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland.