76 Grand Street
Yes and Not Yes, the first New York exhibition of the work of Tauba Auerbach, featured more than twenty new paintings and drawings that expounded upon themes of language, both written and spoken.
Auerbach’s fascination with the origins of language, its breakdowns and slippages especially, has led her to an artistic study of language qua gestalt. How does verbal language relate to the symbols used in written language, and do these symbols reveal anything about the structure of the human brain? How arbitrary are the marks, both analog and digital, used to express language, and where do they begin to muck it all up?
Her answer, of course, is that they are largely arbitrary, but rich with abstract beauty and conceptual depth. In razor-sharp painted execution—which reveals Auerbach’s training as a professional sign painter—her works on panel and paper are a refreshing update to the abstract conceptual tradition, and just as intellectually rigorous.
Each piece has a very different story behind it, often revealed only after reading the title that accompanies it. Resembling Russian Suprematist painting are two abstract works entitled Uppercase Insides and Numeral Insides, which, upon further contemplation, turn out to be just that. The Whole Alphabet From Center Out traces out exactly what it promises, too, in a gouache, rainbow-colored code resembling the matrix of an LCD display, evoking the literal-minded whimsy of Jasper Johns’ work with numbers and the alphabet.
Her works based on the Semaphore Alphabet, a signaling system using two red and yellow flags, may require a bit of Googling to decipher, as will her work exploring the Ugaritic Alphabet—an extinct language from Syria, 1300 BC. But regardless of your familiarity with specific components of these languages, your confusion in the face of them is part of the desired effect--where direct semantic exchange is impossible, the beauty of the symbolic language comes to the fore.
This exhibition also included a group of eight pieces addressing digital language--how binary code is insufficient to determine gray. All of the pieces are 50% black and 50% white, simulating the same gray by using different patterns, as did the fill patterns in the Photoshop antecedent, Mac Paint. The idea here was that in our most high-tech recent language, we have excluded the possibility of true ambiguity and can only build it out of unambiguous parts.
Yes and Not Yes was accompanied by How To Spell The Alphabet, a full-color book designed by the artist. Her work has been previously seen in New York in the Dreamland Artists Club project in Coney Island. Auerbach graduated from Stanford University, where she studied with Margaret Kilgallen.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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