The recent work is a continued investigation into what is possible with the material. The material seems to direct me, tells me what it wants to do, tells me what it wants to be. I would not have become an artist if I had wanted to be creative. - Liza Lou
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is pleased to announce the third solo exhibition with the gallery of American artist, Liza Lou.
For this exhibition Lou, who divides her time between studios in Los Angeles and the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, explores the surface commonly accepted as the ground for art – the canvas – making it into the subject of the work. At first glance, the 12 works in this exhibition appear to be paintings, and indeed they follow the prescription for painting in that they are woven material stretched across stretcher frames. On closer examination however color and gesture do not exist on the surface but are imbedded into the very structure of the canvas itself, each work comprising of millions of glass beads woven together to create one unified whole.
Ixube in isiZulu means random, and it is from this premise that the artist developed this current body of work. In her Durban studio, Lou blends large vats of glass beads in a process not unlike blending paint and then packages and distributes hundreds of grams of each blend to the members of her Durban collective to be woven into long strips. The instructions from Lou contain the request that no discernible pattern be made in the weaving. After several months, the strips are returned to Lou’s studio from the townships of KwaZulu-Natal, and inevitably reveal unintended subtle preferences in the weaving and color choices of the individual women. The artist then edits and assembles the individual strips to create a single unified field which is then woven and stretched across steel stretcher bars.
The resulting works display a tsunami of color and random pattern, with surfaces that can’t be fully known or comprehended in a single viewing. From randomly sequenced material, Lou composes structured and rhythmic works, images that are pixelated but also loosely impressionistic. Within a slow and methodical discipline, chaos and structure coexist. Lou’s exploration of process has resulted in minimal, contemplative works, which are mediations on their own making and on the random and unexpected possibility of beauty.
Liza Lou first gained attention when her groundbreaking sculpture, Kitchen was shown at the New Museum in New York in 1996. Since that time, she has participated in numerous solo gallery and museum exhibitions internationally including Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica; and Fondació Joan Miró, Espai 13, Barcelona. Lou has participated in numerous group museum exhibitions including the Serpentine Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Palais de Tokyo, Paris and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Biennale de Lyon d'art Contemporain, Lyon, France and the Taipei Biennial, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei. Lou is the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
A publication will accompany this exhibition with an interview of the artist by Timothée Chaillou.