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The Rose Art Museum opens exhibitions by Walead Beshty and Sam Jury
Walead Beshty, Untitled, 2013. Photograph by Mike Lovett.

WALTHAM, MASS.- Opening on February 13, the Rose Art Museum will present On the matter of abstraction (figs. A & B), a dynamic installation of art from the permanent collection organized by Los Angeles-based artist Walead Beshty in collaboration with Rose director Christopher Bedford, and the installation, Walead Beshty: Untitled.

Also opening on the 13th will be Sam Jury: Coerced Nature, a series of painterly videos by the British artist shown both at the Rose and in public spaces on campus.

Artist Walead Beshty collaborated with Christopher Bedford, Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose, to create On the matter of abstraction (figs. A & B). Comprised of post-war non-figurative works drawn from the Rose’s permanent collection, the exhibition takes the architecture of the museum’s original building (Max Abramovitz, 1961), and uses it to structure two parallel narratives. The entry level, a terrazzo clad room with floor to ceiling windows, features works in the tradition of analytic abstraction by Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Lewitt, Robert Mangold, Kenneth Noland, Agnes Martin and Judy Chicago, among many others. Downstairs, the materially laden objects on display demonstrate a contrasting investment in the unruly. With works by Mark Bradford, Jessica Stockholder, Ana Mendieta, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg and Charline von Heyl, among others, the lower level focuses not only on the gesture and body of the artist but also on the cultural detritus of the world at large. Beshty describes the visitor’s descent to the lower floor as a movement from “the cathedral to the cave… both existing as traditional sites of ritual, contemplation and communion.” here re-imagined as a passage from “line to stain.”

Within the same space, Beshty created a separate work, a mirror and glass floor that runs throughout both levels of the building: Untitled (Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University: Waltham, Massachusetts, February 12 – June 9, 2013). According to Bedford, “While Beshty’s floor is not part of the exhibition on the surrounding walls, it does function as a physical armature for the viewing experience, straddling—perhaps even collapsing—the dialectical concept that structures On the matter of abstraction’s two parts. But while Beshty’s floor may lack an image of its own, it absorbs the world around it through reflection, becoming by virtue of context a highly representational device. Over time and through use, the surface cracks as a result of visitors’ movements, subsequently taking apart the images of the objects we see in it, until finally that reflected world is nothing more than a dense matrix of fractured images and jagged lines.”

Sam Jury: Coerced Nature is a series of video installations presented in the newly renovated Lee Gallery and on campus. Jury’s subjects are as specific as the fraught relationship between human beings and our environments, natural and architectural, and as general as the psychological impact of screen-based technologies on our perception of what is real. She melds staged, fragmented performances with eerily familiar yet unrecognizable places, creating impossible, emotionally layered scenes. The work hovers outside a specific time, location or even artistic genre while feeling utterly contemporary.

On view are works newly created for the exhibition, such as The Approach 4 (2012) and Three Parts Against (2013), as well as earlier pieces, including Over for the Day (2009) and About Nowhere (2010), projected onto sculptural forms, walls, windows, and small boxes, with some work intervening on Brandeis’ public spaces. In addition to installations proportioned to specific gallery spaces, a large projection appears in a window of the Shapiro Campus Center, and tiny screens surprise in unexpected nooks of the university libraries.

According to curator Dabney Hailey, “While Jury’s body of work includes painting, photography, performance and video, Coerced Nature focuses on her video installations, which marry elements of all these mediums. The artist refers to her video work as sitting between ‘trauma and rapture,’ between passive and active gazes, and between isolation and voyeurism. These ambivalences—which in many ways characterize the digital age—cohere in Jury’s charged, entrancing works of art.”

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