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New York

Lucas Samaras

Me, Myself and...

Past
Jan 17–Feb 22, 2020

This exhibition tracks Samaras’s own history alongside the evolution of his protean body of work, continuing his longstanding investigation into self-imagery and psychological gender-elasticity.

Exhibition Details

Lucas Samaras
Me, Myself and...
Jan 17 – Feb 22, 2020

Gallery

540 West 25th Street
New York

Above: Lucas Samaras, Untitled, 2019, pure pigment on paper print, 13" × 13" (33 cm × 33 cm), image 14" × 14" (35.6 cm × 35.6 cm), paper © Lucas Samaras

Pace Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of more than seventy new works by Lucas Samaras, marking the artist’s thirty-fifth solo exhibition at Pace since joining the gallery in 1965. In his new body of work, Samaras appropriates and transforms imagery from his personal archive of family photos using commercial software, producing alternately haunting and humorous compositions that meditate on the role of mythology, mortality and fantasy in our inner lives. Samaras’s exhibition of recent photographic works will be presented alongside a selection of his pioneering sculptural objects from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as iconic works from later decades, and is accompanied by a catalogue containing a new text by the artist. Me, Myself and. . . will be on view from January 17 through February 22 at 540 West 25th Street with an opening reception held on Thursday, January 16 from 6 – 8 PM.

For more than six decades, Samaras has engaged in a provocative and influential investigation into the nature of selfhood. His new works derive in large part from black-and-white family photographs dating from his childhood in Greece in the 1940s, during the time of the Greek Civil War, as well as from later decades of his life. Together, these personal photographs track Samaras’s own history alongside the evolution of his protean body of work, continuing a longstanding investigation into the expanded field of self-portraiture.

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Lucas Samaras, Untitled, 2019, pure pigment on paper print, 13" × 13" (33 cm × 33 cm), image, 14" × 14" (35.6 cm × 35.6 cm), paper © Lucas Samaras

Samaras’s recent works use and mis-use digital imaging techniques in ways that parallel his engagement with photography in the groundbreaking Auto-Polaroids and Photo-Transformations series of the late 1960s and 1970s. Scratching, incising or otherwise manipulating the photographic inks of images taken with an early Polaroid camera, Samaras introduced expressionist interventions into their mechanically produced surfaces, resisting the ostensible objectivity of the technological medium. In his new works, Samaras’s “hand” remains visible in the form of standardized Photoshop effects. Typically intended to disappear in the final image, Samaras instead allows these photo-editing effects to become a central subject of the work, producing a new language of abstraction derived from the visual artifacts of unabashedly computer-generated manipulations. These abstract forms contrast in striking and enigmatic ways with the archival photographs with which they are interwoven, framing, blurring, overlapping and transforming their figurative content.

Set in his apartment, studio and in the streets and parks of New York City, Samaras’s new works investigate how a self can persist across time by means of the images that document its changing appearance. At times evoking a mythic pastoralism, the works digitally insert Samaras into various banal urban settings: in one instance, he is seen standing at his window, staring broodingly at what appears to be a swarm of digitally-generated birds hovering over the cityscape; elsewhere, his naked body lounges comically in a woody grove accompanied by an avian companion, loosely evoking Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. Whether set in the lobby of his high-rise apartment building or the picturesque landscape of nearby Central Park, Samaras’s new works imbue the everyday spaces of the city with an oneiric and often menacing quality. Reflecting the artist’s continued interest in how fantasy, imagination and interiority inflect our sense of the passage of time—both personal and collective—the works point to the performative labor through which we produce the fiction of a unified, stable and coherent “self.”

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Lucas Samaras

Eliding historical categorization, Lucas Samaras’s oeuvre is united through its consistent focus on the body and psyche, often emphasizing autobiography. The theme of self-depiction and identity has been a driving force behind his practice, which, at its onset in the early 1960s, advanced the Surrealist idiom yet proposed a radical departure from the presiding themes of Abstract Expressionism and Pop art.

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New York — Lucas Samaras, Me, Myself and..., Jan 17–Feb 22, 2020