The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.
Kate Shepherd, Chrysanthemum, 2010. Oil and enamel on paper, 28 x 38 in. Purchase, The Hereward Lester Cooke Memorial Fund and Gift of C. Richard Belger and Evelyn R. Craft, 2010
While it seems to be a relatively small task to make a “medium-sized” work, it is a surprisingly hard challenge. My work tends to be door-like. The figures (however you define that term) inhabit a space that echos real life—with a gravity and stance that living beings share. On the other hand, the smaller painting puts us in a position of looking upon an image, or in the case of Chrysanthemum, upon a mere idea of an object, a geometric “absolute” construction. I wanted to point to Mondrian’s copious flower studies; my yellow made that connection clear.
Black Tiles is a lyrical optical trick, a graceful linear movement to behold. How do those straight lines billow? Unlike the paradigm of a painting acting as window, we look upon this image and not through it.
Of her work in response to Vincent van Gogh’s The Road Menders, Intersections @ 5 artist Linn Meyers says “The fact that he was really a painter, and that he really used the paint in a visceral way, effected the way that my drawing progressed; it actually started to become more of a painting than a drawing.”
(left) Lee Boroson, Fixed Haze, 2014. Photo: Lee Stalsworth (middle) Vesna Pavlović, Installation view of Untitled (Annex, Giacometti exhibition, 1963), 2014. Photo: Mica Scalin (right) Jill O’Bryan, one billion breaths in a lifetime, 2015. Photo courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
While it might not be immediately apparent, I see a similarity in the works by contemporary artists Lee Boroson, Vesna Pavlović, and Jill O’Bryan currently (or recently, in the case of Pavlović) on view at the Phillips. Through very different materials, all three are subject in some way to elements beyond the artist’s control. Boroson’s Fixed Haze (at left above, and on view in Intersections@5) dangles from the ceiling and might spin rapidly or not at all based on wind; Pavlović’s Untitled (Annex, Giacometti exhibition, 1963), a giant curtain which I wrote briefly about while it was on view in 2014, might show a distinct image or appear nearly transparent depending on sunlight; and as O’Bryan says of her work one billion breaths in a lifetime, this piece is best experienced when “activated” by observing the reflection as you move by it. Seeing these works at different points during the day or month has the potential to be a wholly unique experience each time.