N. Dash, John Giorno, Alfred Jensen
13 October – 15 November 2014
6-10 Lexington Street, London, W1F 0LB
London—Pace London is delighted to present THERE WAS A BAD TREE, a collective exhibition of works by N. Dash, John Giorno, and Alfred Jensen. The exhibition will be on view from 13 October to 15 November 2014 at 6–10 Lexington Street, marking Dash and Giorno’s first exhibitions with the gallery. Pace London will celebrate the exhibition’s publication—featuring an original essay by Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director of the Jewish Museum in New York—at the private view on Sunday 12 October from 12 to 4 pm.
Taking its title from the eponymous 2001 poem by Giorno, THERE WAS A BAD TREE brings together three American artists, all rarely exhibited in the UK. Giorno’s performance of the poem, installed as an audio installation, plays alongside new work by Dash and a collection of Jensen’s paintings which range in date from 1958 to 1975. Although each artist belongs to and emerged from distinct cultural milieux, the exhibition explores the formal and conceptual affinities shared between the three, revealing the broad cultural influences and forces that inspire each artists' practice and bridges their work.
Jensen’s intricate methodology reflects a distinctive approach to painting, refining his wide-ranging studies of science, math, and philosophy— such as Goethe colour theory, Pythagorean mathematics, the Mayan calendar, the I Ching—into a personal artistic vernacular. Jensen employs colour as an organizing system within the diagrammatic structure of his paintings, creating optical rhythms that allude to a deeper symbolic meaning. His paintings present information whose specificity may be obscured by the erudition of Jensen’s beliefs and interests, but nonetheless gestures toward an alternate mode of painting and history. Jensen’s work can “be seen as the opening of a possibility of other kinds of relations among things…. If all Western painting up to Jensen’s time had as its condition an underlying notion of how things are disclosed according to a particular understanding of time and space (perhaps ultimately derived from the Greeks), we sense in Jensen’s painting a striving toward another way of being in the world,” wrote art historian Michael Newman. “Alfred Jensen’s Diagrams,” in Alfred Jensen: Concordance, eds. Lynne Cooke and Karen Kelly (New York: Dia Art Foundation, 2003).
“If Jensen’s works are preoccupied with centuries–old logics that strive to make sense of sense, Dash’s are concerned with the sensorial here and now. Viewing Jensen’s paintings is akin to embarking on an archaeological dig. Dash creates new artefacts. What unites these very different practices is their subtle revival of the romantic pursuit. Both speak in terms that are both expansive and precise. Both deeply invest in conveying a sense of wonder. Both foreground sense perception and readily make use of the authenticity of lived experience.” — Jens Hoffman, THERE WAS A BAD TREE catalogue essay, 2014.
Jensen's dynamic compositions find certain affinities with Dash's wall hung constructions. As one can see a landscape shift with the slightest movement of perspective, looking at Dash’s works from differing vantage points reveals a completely different experience for each composition. Their multipart constructions belie their sense of unity; each composition is a study in geometry and equipoise. Dash's works possess a range of materials: some are cloaked in painted linen, while others hang on the wall and display planes of adobe or adobe coated with graphite. Though they resist definition, they are the sum of their details. Her sculptures, which she has said “interweave time and space and navigate information in idiosyncratic ways that search for something that is outside of language,” can be seen as the starting point and primary source for her painting.
Echoing N. Dash’s evocations of landscape, a recording of Giorno reading his poem “THERE WAS A BAD TREE,” which weaves a dynamic narrative around the life of a tree, will play in the gallery. Working in sound, performance, visual art and poetry, Giorno has pushed the context and possibilities of poetry in his more than five decades of work. Describing his process as growing out of Pop art and Dada, Giorno says that he “finds” sounds and ideas and then makes them concrete through the act of writing. “When poets write a poem, they don’t really see words first… they first hear a word in their mind; they experience it as sound and feel something. This is the moment wisdom arises—the sound becomes a word when it gets written down on the page, and then it becomes a poem,” “John Giorno” by Marcus Boon. Bomb. Fall 2008.
Giorno’s work thus uses words but pushes beyond their literal meanings to find aesthetic value in their form, sound and inflection. His poetry thus emerges from an abstract space akin to that of Dash and Jensen, transforming and transmitting nebulous ideas and concepts through personal experience and philosophies.
1- “Alfred Jensen’s Diagrams,” in Alfred Jensen: Concordance, eds. Lynne Cooke and Karen Kelly (New York: Dia Art Foundation, 2003).
2- THERE WAS A BAD TREE catalogue essay, Pace London 2014.
3- “John Giorno” by Marcus Boon. Bomb. Fall 2008.
NOTES TO EDITORS
N. Dash (b. 1980, Miami Beach, FL) received a BA from New York University in 2003 and an MFA from Columbia University, New York, in 2010. An exhibition of her work is on view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles through January 25, 2015. In 2013, White Flag Projects, Saint Louis, MO presented a solo exhibition of her work. In 2014, her work has been featured in group exhibitions including, Pier 54, High Line, New York; Dreams That Money Can’t Buy, Maxxi Museum, Rome; The Possible, University of California Berkeley Art Museum. Other group exhibitions include Painting in Place, Farmers and Merchants Bank presented by Los Angeles Nomadic Division (2013); My Crippled Friend, Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, OH (2013); Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process, Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO (2012); and Transient Response / Land Tender, High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA (2011). She lives and works in New York.
John Giorno (b. 1936, New York, NY) graduated from Columbia University, New York in 1958 and has been a major figure in the downtown Manhattan avant-garde since the 1960s. Although his work is grounded in poetry and was affiliated with William S. Burroughs, Giorno’s collaborations and friendships with leading visual and performance artists, such as John Cage, Brion Gysin, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol pushed his work into performance, film, painting and other media. Giorno’s work and performances have been presented worldwide at venues such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Artists Space, New York; the New Museum, New York; and the Serpentine Gallery, London. Among other solo exhibitions, the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, presented his work in 2012 and 2013 and will present a larger solo exhibition of his work in 2015. His work is included in many public collections including Centre national d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Giorno has published criticism and many volumes of poetry. A collection of his poetry, Subduing Demons in America: Selected Poems 1962-2007, was published by Soft Skull Press in 2008. He lives and works in New York.
Alfred Jensen (b. 1903, Guatemala City, d. 1981, Livingston, NJ) studied at the San Diego Fine Arts School and in Munich under the tutelage of Hans Hofmann before leaving to complete his studies in Paris where he refined and developed his impasto technique. Demonstrating a range of interests from science, systems theory, colour theory, mathematics, and philosophy, Jensen’s colourful paintings of grids and diagrams also reflect the metaphysical dimension of these schools of thought. Jensen has been featured in numerous important international group exhibitions including Documenta (1964, 1968, 1972), the Venice Biennale (1964), Biennial of São Paulo (1977), and Post Painterly Abstraction, a landmark travelling exhibition curated by Clement Greenberg for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1964). His work is included in numerous prominent public collections and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Dia Center for the Arts, New York (2002); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1961, 1985); Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY (1978); Kunsthalle, Basel (1964, 1975); Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover (1973); and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1964). Pace has represented Jensen since 1972.