Shape Language, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, NY

Installation view

June 22 – July 31, 2010

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery presents Shape Language, a group exhibition organized by Natalie Campbell.The works on view rethink the basics of color and form while treading the line between what is inside and outside a formal vocabulary. The starting point for the exhibition is Blinky Palermo’s Graue Scheibe from 1970, in which form attains a precarious autonomy: an irregular lozenge of shaped noncolor, floating (almost) freely on the gallery wall.

Shapemaking is an incessant, purposeful activity; it allows forms to speak and generate their own next iteration or question, as is apparent in Amy Sillman’s humanized, electric canvas and Imi Knoebel’s Messerschnitte collage series. A sense of experimentation carries through the silhouettes and shadows in Amy Granat’s photographs of destroyed, manipulated film. Jason Tomme’s hybrid of painting and monotype uses spray paint and a pressed sheet of paper to make process, physicality, and serendipity visible, while the marks in Zak Prekop’s delicate painting emerge from a process both immediate and contemplative. A hulking, monolithic sculpture by Esther Kläs creates an almost human personality out of surface and volume. Everyday materials generate their own unique idioms: in Patrick Brennan’s paintings, the matter-of-fact layering of paint, popsicle sticks, silk, and other craft media embeds daily life within an anxious yet confident visual field.

The curves and planes of Keiko Narahashi’s half-formed clay pots create surprising, unstable relationships that shift fluidly between two and three dimensions. A similar optical play emerges between the rigid lines and the traces of spray paint in Ned Vena’s painting. Simultaneously physical and disembodied, the shaped and stacked canvases of Joe Bradley and Wendy White make use of the tension between surface and edge, fullness and emptiness. Adam McEwen defamiliarizes shape and opens it to new meanings, appropriating and altering a form from Ellsworth Kelly’s Curve series with representations of banal text messages. Playing off of the contrasts and harmonies among these works, the exhibition coheres around the near-freedom of a visual language grounded in the physical world.

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