Pace Galleries

Fred Wilson Lights Up The Pace Gallery With Venetian Chandeliers

On Saturday the Pace Gallery opened a new exhibition of works by the Brooklyn-based artist Fred Wilson — his first solo show in the city since his controversial proposal for a public sculpture in Indianapolis was abandoned — at its 510 West 25th Street location. The exhibition, Venice Suite: Sala Longhi and Related Works, features three variations on traditional Venetian chandeliers, and when IN THE AIR stopped by shortly before the opening reception on Saturday evening the newest and largest, “To Die Upon A Kiss” (2011), was already on reserve. That piece, with its clear-to-black glass gradient, greets visitors in the gallery’s front room. Wilson’s “Sala Longhi” installation, which he premiered at the 2011 Venice Biennale, takes up the second gallery, with a white glass chandelier emerging from a wall-mounted picture frame surrounded by smaller frames filled with black glass out of which face-shaped circles have been cut. The resulting voids, which show through to the pristine white of the gallery walls, correspond to the faces of figures in Pietro Longhi’s “Sala Longhi” 18th-century painting cycle. In the gallery’s rear room, a smaller and earlier jet-black glass chandelier, “Othello’s Light” (2005), caps the exhibition’s suite of ominously beautiful glowing glass sculptures. Accompanying wall text written by Wilson explains the works as responses to his research about Venice’s rarely discussed or even acknowledged yet substantial African population in 18th century. Flanked by Wilson’s trademark teardrop-shaped black glass sculptures, the bright chandeliers are simultaneously mournful, confrontational, and seductive.
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