Hiding in Plain Sight. Pace Gallery. New York

New York – Pace Gallery is pleased to host a group exhibition exploring how a wide range of artists from the early 2000s to the present day use the language of minimalism and abstraction to distill complex subjects into forms that reveal new frames of meaning, revelation and resistance for the here and now. The exhibition is curated by Senior Director and Curator Andria Hickey and is spread over two floors of Pace’s Gallery at 540 West 25th Street. It brings together 17 international artists from the gallery’s program, including: Etel Adnan, Yto Barrada, Aria Dean, Simon Denny, Torkwase Dyson, Sam Gilliam, Suki Seokyeong Kang, Kapwani Kiwanga, Alicja Kwade, Tony Lewis, Rodney McMillian, Trevor Paglen , Walid Raad, Adrián Villar Rojas, Hito Steyerl, Rayyane Tabet, Jessica Vaughn and Fred Wilson. Hiding in Plain Sight displays a wide range of media as well as outdoor sculptures and explores new modes of abstraction that contain references to specific stories, entities and contexts within the formal dimensions of the work. Like vessels that transport information from one place to another, the works of art in this exhibition manifest the complexity of modern life in forms that hide their subject matter through aesthetic intervention.

Over its 60-year history, the Pace Gallery has hosted themed group exhibitions that have taken stock of the evolving relationship between form and content as articulated by each new generation of artists. These include such important exhibitions as Grids (1979) and Logical Conclusions (2005), which explored the systems and strategies of minimalism in the 1960s to early 2000s, and the groundbreaking exhibition Blackness in Abstraction (2016), by Adrienne Edwards Curated was investigated blackness as a powerful, evocative, and invigorating force in abstract art from the 1940s to the present day. Building on the legacy of these important exhibitions, Hiding in Plain Sight proposes new active relationships between form and content in the way artists interpret and express meaning today.

The artists included in the exhibition often begin their work with a research process that examines topics from a seemingly diverse range of sources, revealing unexpected narratives and a revolving web of historical, infrastructural, or geopolitical connections that are often hidden from the public. This information is distilled and abstracted and depicted in the formal and material dimensions of the individual works such as scale, shape, color or form. Upon closer inspection, the works carry alternative readings that position the subject and the object itself as a place for viewing a fragmented and complex experience of today’s global life. Seemingly opaque, the works of art are encoded with allusions to a variety of topics – from the extraction of raw materials and industrial production processes to the psychological effects of colors to geometries that reflect the infrastructures of racial capitalism and trauma.

Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2017, with the kind permission of the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut / Hamburg

For example, Trevor Paglen’s Trinity Cube (2017) is deceptively elementary in its form, but on closer inspection, its materials speak volumes. The composition of the cube refers to the irradiated glass of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone in Japan and to trinitite, the mineral formed when the world’s first atomic bomb detonated near Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945, and the surface of the desert heated to the point where it is it turned sand into a greenish glass. Paglen’s work brings these materials together in a single form, depicting sublime connections between two distant locations of disaster and discovery, surveillance and control. Similarly, Rayyane Tabets steel rings (2013 – ongoing) installed on the terrace on the second floor of the gallery are reminiscent of the language of minimalism. However, the object acts as a substitute for a specific place, time, and business unit. Each steel ring that recreates the steel rings of the Trans-Arab Pipeline, a form of infrastructure defined by the boundaries of five political entities in the Middle East, is the same diameter and thickness as the original pipeline, engraved with the distance from the source the pipeline and its corresponding geographic coordinates representing a single kilometer in the 1213 kilometers of the pipeline’s tortuous journey through geopolitical areas.

Torkwase Dyson, a place called Dark Black (Bird and Lava), 2020 © Torkwase Dyson, courtesy of Pace GalleryTorkwase Dyson, a place called Dark Black (Bird and Lava), 2020 © Torkwase Dyson, courtesy of Pace Gallery

Kapwani Kiwanga’s exploration of color in her series Linear Paintings, four of which are in the exhibition, suggests a relationship with the chromatic painting of Imi Knoebel or Blinky Palermo. However, these paintings on drywall show the two-tone color palettes used in public settings for certain psychological effects. Kiwanga’s linear division of color reference points of institutional control creates links between late 19th century hygiene movements and hospital reforms, as well as Faber Birren’s color theory used in work, learning, surveillance, healing, and care that used such theories to monitor social divisions and maintain power structures. Other artists in the exhibition navigate to abstraction as a subjective space for re-imagining traumatic stories. Torkwase Dyson’s paintings and sculptures explore the spatial and geometric conditions of extraction in the Anthropocene. Dyson’s paintings transform the architecture of containment and control into planar fields and forms of resilience delimited by horizon lines. They use shape, material, and form in a way that reflects the racial conditions of the extraction to create a new aesthetic foundation for the abstraction.

Topics such as absence, appearance and archaeological time are reflected in the entire exhibition. Hito Steyerl’s video installation How Not to Be Seen: A damn didactic educational .MOV file, 2013, echoes through the first floor of the exhibition, offering visitors five lessons in invisibility. Steyerl’s installation examines the spread of images and the type of infrastructure in the information age and ironically depicts formal, symbolic and real connections between the worlds of art, business and global political regimes. Like Steyerl’s instructional video, the works throughout the exhibition show unexpected but real connections between the formal attributes of art and the global infrastructures that characterize contemporary life.

Like the invisible systems and transactions in everyday life, the works in this exhibition suggest that the practice of distilling and abstracting information in contemporary art mirrors the mechanisms of global infrastructural space. In contrast to highways and telephone lines, today’s core infrastructure such as broadband internet and global supply chains are no longer visible and hide the constant flow of information and goods in their structure. These works of art carry and hide information in similar ways, but for different purposes. Transcripts hidden in the visual poetics of each work suggest latent modes of resistance and reveal invisible connections buried in the infrastructural space of the past and present. Embodied in the physical material of the work of art, social and historical events, people and topics span time and space to create encounters in the here and now. By accepting opacity, as Édouard Glissant suggested, these works offer an “infinite variety” of poetic landscapes in response – non-linear, contradicting, and active in creating new forms of interpretation and meaning.

tempo is a leading international art gallery representing some of the most influential contemporary artists and estates of the past century and having decades of relationships with Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Barbara Hepworth, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson and Mark Rothko. Pace enjoys a unique US heritage on both the East and West Coasts as an early supporter of artists central to the movements of Abstract Expressionism and Light and Space.

Since its inception by Arne Glimcher in 1960, Pace has developed a stellar legacy as the first artist gallery to show groundbreaking historical and contemporary exhibitions. Under the current leadership of President and CEO Marc Glimcher, Pace continues to support its artists and share their visionary work with global audiences by staying at the forefront of innovation. Now in its seventh decade, the gallery expands its mission with a robust global program that includes exhibitions, artist projects, public installations, institutional collaborations, performances and interdisciplinary projects. Pace has a legacy in art bookmaking and has published over 500 titles in close collaboration with artists, with an emphasis on original science and the introduction of new voices into the art historical canon. The gallery has also advanced exploration of the intersection of art and technology through new business models, exhibition interpretation tools, and the display of artists engaged in technology.

Today, Pace has nine locations worldwide, including London, Geneva, a strong foothold in Palo Alto and two galleries in New York – the headquarters at 540 West 25th Street, which programmed almost 120,000 visitors and 20 shows in the first six months adjacent 8,000 sq. ft. exhibition space at 510 West 25th Street. Pace was one of the first international galleries to set up outposts in Asia, where it has permanent gallery spaces in Hong Kong and Seoul, and an office and viewing room in Beijing. In 2020, Pace opened temporary showrooms in East Hampton and Palm Beach that continued to be seasonally programmed. In autumn 2021, Pace will further expand its European presence with the opening of a larger gallery space in London.

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