Currently on at Lévy Gorvy in Paris, the artist Etel Adnan has curated a selection of works in collaboration with Victoire de Pourtalès, centered around a poetic and nostalgic text by the artist. Exploring her movements between Lebanon, California, and France, the text, and the show at large considers the importance of physical and aesthetic displacements, using her own personal horizon, and the questions raised by such mutations as a way to explore broader questions of social and cultural dynamics.
The show brings together artists whose work resonates with her own: Simone Fattal, Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, and Ugo Rondinone, among others, using their respective bodies of work to twist the notion of the horizon as both an expression of limits and endlessly expanding possibilities. The horizon becomes a place for the extension and projection of the self, a boundless space where the viewer is able to invent new limits and new expressions of self by dint of its seeming absence of limit. This horizon line, an element that is by nature intangible and abstract, the virtual meeting point of sky and sea, marks both the frontier of the finite and the infinite. It is a mirage and support of perspective. It sustains productive paradoxes that make it possible to interrogate the dynamic of perception and knowledge.
For example, Ugo Rondinone’s works complete the landscapes in which balance is drawn from an alterity of lines and colors, installing his colorful rock sculptures as a way to extend the horizon into the space of the gallery, and exploring presence as both an abstract and a physical reality. The subversion of natural language here, creating brightly colored replicas of the horizon line to complement the lines and frames on the walls, create a sense of a world both held within limits, and bleeding ever outwards. These images of displaced horizons invoke numerous art historical figures, such as Agnes Martin, who explored the spiritual and aesthetic richness contained with the horizon line. By contrast, Adnan’s work in the show takes on a distinctly cartoonish lilt, a colorful expression of that same sense that lends the show an additional energy and sense of expanding conceptual grounds.
Through the constellation of works and artists assembled here, Adnan dwells on and questions the horizon, making us aware of a profoundly personal vision. She reminds us that the urban environment shows us a finite world in which perception is constantly thwarted, and that we must get down to reappropriating the fields of possibility that lie within the expanses of the horizon.
The show closes on March 20th
– D. Creahan