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Pace London opens its first exhibition of works by Joel Shapiro
Joel Shapiro, Really Blue (after all), 2016. Wood and casein, 8' 7" x 79" x 50" (261.6 cm x 200.7 cm x 127 cm) Installation view of Joel Shapiro, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX, May 7-August 21, 2016. © 2017 Joel Shapiro / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of the artist and Nasher Sculpture Center. Photo by Kevin Todora.

LONDON.- Pace London announces its first exhibition of works by Joel Shapiro, on view from 19 May to 17 June 2017. Presented throughout Pace’s main gallery and an adjacent space at 6 Burlington Gardens, the exhibition will feature an installation of seven vibrant, volumetric sculptures and a selection of recent works on paper.

These seven sculptures, many of which were first exhibited at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, in May 2016, continue Shapiro’s longstanding investigation of anthropomorphic and architectonic form while challenging the viewer’s sense of balance and scale. Re-configured specifically for Pace London – some placed directly on the floor, others tethered by cordage from the walls and ceiling – many of these recent works appear weightless in space, their forms seemingly relieved of mass and gravity, a sense further emphasized by their hollow construction with 3mm plywood. The juxtaposition of suspended and freestanding volumes in a single work, as well as the introduction of more suggestive, referential forms, represents a new direction in Shapiro’s experimentation with dissociated systems that commenced around 2002, when he began to disassemble more coherent structures into a series of wood and wire works that he hung from the walls and ceiling of his studio. These earlier discrete works, which were featured in an exhibition at Pace Gallery, New York, in 2005, subsequently evolved into room-sized installations of suspended, rectilinear elements that he exhibited at Pace Gallery, New York (2010), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2011), and Rice University Art Gallery, Houston (2012), among other institutions.

Despite the vivid colours and the open composition, the large scale of the sculptures gives them a potentially unsettling presence. Situated at different heights and angles within the main gallery, the seven sculptures confound expectations and present new configurations as one walks around and interacts with them, heightening one’s experience of space and form. In OK Green (2016)—a large, mint-coloured work—the triangular corner of the open form at first appears to point out into space, suggesting a closed volume, and then shifts, receding into the interior of the work and thrusting the outer edges and angles forward. In the catalogue to his 1982 exhibition curated by Richard Marshall at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Shapiro evokes colour as a potent force: “The idea of thinking in color always interested me. If you are a sculptor and you use color, the color has to mean something, do something to change your perception of the piece. Cobalt violet obfuscates form and blue withdraws. Cadmium red and black both add density.” The current installation, which the artist has refered to as a kind of dreamscape, continues this investigation into the dynamics of form and color and extends further his attempt to conjur in the viewer an array of psychological and perceptual associations.

The exhibition at Pace will also feature a selection of gouaches and smaller-scale sculptures in an adjacent, more intimate, space in the gallery. Alongside his sculptures, Shapiro has made works on paper throughout his career. The gouaches on display are abstract and expressionistic. For some, he made pairs of works by blotting compositions with clean paper, creating a mirror image that Shapiro then obfuscates by adding new colours or changing the orientation of the paper.

Only a few streets away from Pace London at 23 Savile Row, Verge (2003–2008)—a permanent bronze sculpture—is suspended from the building. Like the sculptures at Pace, this work appears to effortlessly float in space and defy gravity.

Born in New York City in 1941, Joel Shapiro has explored the possibilities of sculptural form throughout his forty-five-year career. His work has been the subject of numerous solo and retrospective exhibitions at institutions including the Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1980; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1982; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1985; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (jointly with the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City), 1995-6; the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2011; and the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas, 2016. Shapiro was recently the subject of a survey exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland.

Shapiro’s works are held in over one hundred public collections worldwide, including the British Museum, London; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Cleveland Museum of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; Harvard Art Museums, Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone-machi, Japan; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Menil Collection, Houston; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.

Shapiro has executed more than thirty commissions and publicly-sited sculptures in major Asian, European, and North American cities. In 1993 he installed a permanent work, Loss and Regeneration, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Other prominent commissions include Conjunction, for the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies for the United States Embassy in Ottawa, Canada; For Jennifer, commissioned by the Denver Art Museum; and Now, commissioned by the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies and installed in 2013 at the new U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China.

Mr. Shapiro was elected to the Swedish Royal Academy of Art in 1994 and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998. The French Minister of Culture awarded Shapiro the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005, and in 2013 he was honored with the National Art Award for Outstanding Achievement by Americans for the Arts. In April 2015, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center.

Joel Shapiro lives and works in New York City.

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