ROME.- Gagosian Gallery
presents an exhibition of eight new paintings by Christopher Wool.
In a fugue of gestural restraint and release, Wool filters the fundaments of abstract painting through the gritty syntax of urban reality. By painting layer upon layer of whites and off-whites over silkscreened elements used in previous works -- monochrome forms taken from reproductions, enlargements of details of photographs, screens, and Polaroids of his own paintings -- he accretes the surface of his pressurized paintings while apparently voiding their very substance. Only ghosts and impediments to the field of vision remain, each fixed in its individual temporality. Through these various procedures of application and cancellation, Wool obscures the luminal traces of previous elements, putting reproduction and negation to generative use in forming a new chapter in contemporary painting. His paintings, therefore, can be defined as much by what they are not and what they hold back as what they are.
In new works to be seen for the first time in Rome, Wool continues to conflate the oppositional foundations of modern painting the directness and immediacy of human mark making with the mediating effects of mechanical and digital reproduction. Silkscreen is the foundation on top of which he employs an array of techniques -- including stenciling, rolling, dripping, dragging, and spray-painting to wrest increasingly muscular iterations from his established repertoire. Combining reproduction and over-painting, he repeatedly reworks the images, photographing the paintings and screening the resulting photographic images onto linen. In some instances, he plants a caesura in the composition with a swathe or blot of viscous enamel paint. Thus this intense and protracted process emerges as both substance and subject of the work, a terse paean to the unending contingencies of life and change.
Christopher Wool was born in Chicago in 1955. He has participated widely in international exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1989), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998), and Kunsthalle Basel (1998). His work is part of numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Kunsthalle Basel; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Tate Modern, London. Wool lives and works in New York City.