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Parrish Art Museum Presents Major Exhibition of Celebrated Portuguese Artist Julião Sarmento
Julião Sarmento, House, Plant, Black and Cream, 2008-9. Water-based enamel, collage, and graphite on paper, 19¾ x 25½ inches. Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. Photo: José Manuel Costa Alves © 2011 Julião Sarmento.

SOUTHAMPTON, NY.- Julião Sarmento: Artists and Writers/House and Home, an exhibition of more than forty paintings and works on paper by the acclaimed Portuguese artist, are on view at the Parrish Art Museum from April 17 through June 11, 2011. Organized by Parrish Director Terrie Sultan, the exhibition will highlight the artist’s longstanding engagement with the themes of language, writing, and a sense of place. As part of its ongoing commitment to enhance connections among the artistic disciplines, the Parrish Art Museum has commissioned renowned author and Bridgehampton resident James Salter to collaborate with Julião Sarmento and contribute a new fictional short work to the Parrish Art Museum exhibition publication. Artists and Writers/House and Home will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in a U.S. museum since the 1999 exhibition of Fundamental Accuracy at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.

For more than 30 years, Sarmento has incorporated influences from visual art, architecture, literature, psychology, philosophy, music, and film into powerful visual statements about social and psychological tensions and relationships. Recurrent motifs—such as the silhouette of the female figure, photographs that show only a partial view, or excerpts of text—suggest a layered feeling of something hidden, unfulfilled, or taboo.

According to Terrie Sultan, “He is a master of the fragmented narrative, breaking apart and reassembling images to create the contemporary equivalent of ancient word-pictures. His paintings and drawings are dramatic scenes, composed almost exclusively in black and white, expressed through seemingly simple yet elegantly rendered images that describe the fleeting nature of human experience. The female form functions as both the compositional focal point and intellectual backdrop against which sensuality, passion, voyeurism, and transgression play out, forming the core of Sarmento’s reflections on the central themes of life: love, desire, and death.”

Among the more than 40 paintings and works on paper to be featured, the Parrish exhibition will present work from Sarmento’s “What Makes a Writer Great” series (2000-2001) which combines pictures with brief catch-phrases such as “his back” or “arrogant gait,” the phrases offering suggestive clues to the pictorial elements’ silent questions. “I function as a writer, not in the classic sense, but simply in the sense of writing with images,” Sarmento has said. Further highlighting the artist’s fascination with the relationships between images and written word; artists and writers, will be works from Sarmento’s 2009 “Another” series featuring portraits of the female form, faceless and wearing a black dress, combined with images taken from popular culture, among them, the illustrated covers of Paul Auster’s novel The Book of Illusions and James Salter’s A Sport and a Pastime.

Artists and Writers/House and Home will also present elements of Sarmento’s longstanding interest in the idea of “home” with a series of works combining images of Sarmento’s familiar woman in black with that of floor plans of various buildings. From the provocative etching and aquatint edition “Seven Houses and Six Flats” (2006), to works from the 2009 series of “Women and Houses and Plants” and “House of Games,” both featuring large enamel, collage, and graphite on paper drawings, the Parrish Art Museum exhibition will present this persistent theme within Sarmento’s oeuvre throughout the past decade. The Parrish Art Museum exhibition will also feature monumentally scaled mixed media works by Sarmento including Anything To Fill In The Long Silences (1998) and Where Speech Could Have Been Transcribed (2001).

Julião Sarmento was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1948 and studied painting and architecture at the Escola Superior de Belas Artes, where he earned a Masters Degree in 1976. He has exhibited widely for more than thirty years in prestigious institutions, exhibitions, and biennials. He has represented Portugal in the Venice Biennale twice in 1997 and 2010 and has participated in two Documentas. His work is included in distinguished collections including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Musée National d'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Holland; and the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, among others. Julião Sarmento is currently represented by the Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.

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