The Model (Personality) by Trevor Paglen


Jul 15 – Jul 17, 2021
Monte Carlo

To complement Pace's presentation at artmonte-carlo, this online exhibition spans painting, sculpture, photography, and work on paper to examine the relationship between man, nature and temporality through abstracted work.

Art Fair Details

Jul 15–17, 2021

Online Presentation

Jul 13–17, 2021

Above: Trevor Paglen, The Model (Personality), 2020, silver-plated bronze, 7-1/4" × 7-1/8" × 5-3/8" (18.4 cm × 18.1 cm × 13.7 cm) © Trevor Paglen

Grimaldi Forum Monaco
10 Avenue Princesse Grace
Booth 14

Sam Gilliam, Untitled, 2021, watercolor on washi, 39" × 72" (99.1 cm × 182.9 cm) paper 42-3/4" × 74-7/8" × 2" (108.6 cm × 190.2 cm × 5.1 cm) frame
Sam Gilliam, Washi Paper - Blue, 2020, acrylic on washi, 79" × 79" (200.7 cm × 200.7 cm), paper 83" × 83" × 3" (210.8 cm × 210.8 cm × 7.6 cm), frame

Sam Gilliam

Renowned innovator of post-war American painting, Sam Gilliam’s practice expands upon the tenets of Abstract Expressionism. Gilliam emerged from the Washington, D.C. art scene in the mid-1960s with his now iconic Drape paintings, which elaborated upon and disrupted the ethos of the Washington Color School. As an African American artist in the nation’s capital during the Civil Rights Movement, Gilliam’s early works held power not only because of their aesthetic proposition but also as an expression of art’s power in a changing society. As Gilliam’s practice has matured, watercolor has begun to play a powerful role in shaping his approach to the canvas, developing a new sense of freedom and an embrace of the capacity of abstract painting. Gilliam’s most recent watercolor works expand on his practice, making color palpable; the paper becomes the color rather than the vessel for it.


Sam Gilliam, Washi Paper - Blue (detail), 2020 © 2021 Sam Gilliam / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In Washi Paper - Blue, a work that exemplifies Gilliam’s six-decade-long exploration of pigment, Gilliam expresses the inseparability of color and support. The artwork is made on traditional Japanese washi paper, handmade from the inner bark of specific trees and plants. Gilliam repeatedly drenches the paper in monochromatic pigments. This process of saturation creates an image in which the paper is no longer holding color rather it has become the color itself. The image, unlike the usual weightless effect of watercolor, has a thick density that harnesses raw emotion.

Kevin Francis Gray, Breakdown Work #3, 2020, Issorie emerald marble and bronze on yew base, 210 cm × 28.5 cm × 31 cm (82-11/16" × 11-1/4" × 12-3/16")

Kevin Francis Gray

For more than a decade Kevin Francis Gray has been working with marble, building a sculptural practice that explores and subverts classical ideals of beauty inherent in the historic material. At the core of his practice is an interrogation of the intersection of traditional sculptural techniques and contemporary life. Breakdown Work #3, a captivating example of Gray’s most recent body of work, was borne from a period of intense self-reflection, which was further heightened by the enforced lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gray reflects, “I feel there is a kind of larger societal breakdown, some kind of global societal re-aligning or re-emergence we’re all going through… And that’s why this whole series of work is called The Breakdown Works.”

Unlike previous bodies of work, The Breakdown Works incorporate a wide variety of new materials into Gray’s visual lexicon—green onyx, bronze, rough concrete, steel, and ebonized wood come into play with the iconic marble. In balancing several colors, textures, and shapes within a single composition, Gray eschews the distinction between sculpture and plinth to create a unified entity. Breakdown Work #3 sits atop its own custom pedestal, the rough-hewn wood contrasting the smooth dark marble, offset by the celestial glint of bronze moons. The interplay of materials mirrors the tumult of emotion imbued in the work, into which Gray channelled “so much of my personal energy and troubles and dramas and complications and positivity”.

Trevor Paglen, The Model (Personality), 2020, silver-plated bronze, 7-1/4" × 7-1/8" × 5-3/8" (18.4 cm × 18.1 cm × 13.7 cm)

Trevor Paglen

Trevor Paglen is known for investigating the invisible through the visible, with a wide-reaching approach that spans image making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. Among his chief concerns are learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures.

Created from silver-plated bronze, The Model (Personality) is etched with markings inspired by 19th Century phrenology busts. These were artefacts from the pseudo-sciences of phrenology and physiognomy, the detailed study of the dimensions of a person’s face and head in order to glean information about their character. Phrenology assumed that different regions of the head corresponded to different personality types. The Model (Personality) is a phrenology skull, however the sections etched onto the skull are derived from current categories that are used in predictive policing and sentencing algorithms that intend to gauge someone’s level of criminality by measuring their psychological attributes and behaviors.

Adam Pendleton, Untitled (water), 2014, silkscreen ink on mirror polished stainless steel, 10' x 5' (304.8 cm x 152.4 cm)

Adam Pendleton

First exhibited at Pace in New York in 2014, this poetic close-up detail of a body of water examines the beautifully arbitrary disturbances caused by currents and wind on its surface. Printed with silkscreen ink onto mirror polished steel, this enthralling work teeters on the edge of abstraction as the monochromatic color palette strips the image of its saturation, inviting a closer look at the pattern and effect of light itself. In printing the work onto a reflective surface, Pendleton introduces a playful, performative element to Untitled (Water) as the viewer and surrounding environment becomes part of the large-scale panel.

Pendleton exhibited a suite of these stainless steel printed panels alongside his masterpiece film My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard, an extraordinary record of the Black Panther Party member that took three years to capture. Presented within this wider context, Untitled (Water) takes on new meaning. Pendleton purposefully chose to use this 1929 photograph of rippling water because, in his words, ‘I'm asking the question, "Can ideas, images and people from different eras inhabit the same moment? How do these images connect?" From … David Hilliard to the water pieces from 1929, in a poetic sense … there's a shared conversation amongst these figures.’ In other words, Pendleton is asking the ancient Heraclitus question about how time and space connect to one another. Pendleton uses this impressive work to ask, ‘How does the past filter through the present and relate to a future dynamic?’

Paolo Roversi, Natalia, Paris, 2009, pigment print on baryta paper, 20" × 15-3/4" (50.8 cm × 40 cm), image 23-7/8" × 19-5/8" (60.6 cm × 49.8 cm), paper

Paolo Roversi

Paolo Roversi has been a pioneering force in photography for more than 50 years, eloquently bridging the divide between a fine art and commercial practice. Working mostly with his trademark Deardorff 8 x 10 camera, Roversi has crafted a unique visual language that draws on classical painting and a pictorial sensibility. Diffused lighting and ghostly shadows imbue his portraits with an ethereal quality that is simultaneously timeless and of their moment. Often staging his photographs with mirrors or soft fabrics, Roversi is known for his signature ability to maintain a simplicity to his imagery while also creating unusual or unexpected compositions with a strong sense of dynamism. In Natalia, Paris, Roversi inventively captures Natalia Vodianova’s nude figure through a mirror, in doing so he subverts conventions of portrait photography by revealing his own presence. In Naomi, Paris, Roversi uses a particularly narrow depth of field so the focus is carefully directed on Campbell’s face and chest, drawing the viewer’s eye into her world. The overall soft, dreamlike effect is that of an early analogue Daguerreotype photograph.

For me to take a picture is an act of love, something to connect with the rest of the world and... voila!

Paolo Roversi

Paolo Roversi, Naomi, Paris, 1996, pigment print on baryta paper, 9-1/4" × 7-1/2" (23.5 cm × 19.1 cm), image 10-5/8" × 8-1/4" (27 cm × 21 cm), paper

The distinctive dynamic Roversi creates between himself and his subject is at the core of his practice. This is revealed by the language he uses when referring to the process of photographing; choosing to use the verb ‘giving’ a picture as opposed to ‘taking’ one. Roversi explains, ‘A portrait is an encounter between myself and my subject – and nothing is certain. I don’t know what will happen. I do not know how it will be. I do not know which kind of picture will come out in the end. It’s a mystery we try to reveal together. It is not just a reproduction of what we are doing but more a revelation of what we are discovering together.”

Lucas Samaras

Lucas Samaras acquired his first polaroid camera in late 1969 and was immediately inspired by the freedom of experimentation afforded by the almost instantaneous results. In the years that followed, Samaras made hundreds of photographs in his home/studio. Some photographs took still life compositions as their subject, but the vast majority were of the artist’s own naked body in movement, he explained, ‘I like remaking myself in photography’. Choosing to work mostly at night or in the early morning, the polaroid images are carefully lit with extreme contrast, casting unusual shadows and highlighting specific parts of the artist’s body. An awareness of the artist’s solitude is apparent in this body of work, their titles confirming that the photographs are taken of himself, by himself. The shocking or unusual poses Samaras chose—seen here bent over in an unnatural position or standing on a transparent stand holding a chair in front of a backdrop—are testament both to the artist’s inventiveness as well as the importance of performance and theatricality in his artistic practice. Through these images, Samaras explores taboos, celebrates the human form and challenges expectations in new and enlivening ways.

Lucas Samaras, AutoPolaroid, 1969-71, gelatin silver transfer print (Polaroid film), 3-3/4" × 2-7/8" (9.5 cm × 7.3 cm) 11" × 10-3/4" × 7/8" (27.9 cm × 27.3 cm × 2.2 cm), frame
Lucas Samaras, AutoPolaroid, 1969-71, gelatin silver transfer print (Polaroid film), 3-3/4" × 2-7/8" (9.5 cm × 7.3 cm)
Arlene Shechet, Together: 10 p.m., 2020, glazed ceramic, acrylic paint, powder coated steel, 13" × 17-1/2" × 13" (33 cm × 44.5 cm × 33 cm), ceramic 8" × 8" × 8" (20.3 cm × 20.3 cm × 20.3 cm), stand 16-1/2" × 17-1/2" × 13" (41.9 cm × 44.5 cm × 33 cm), overall

Arlene Shechet

Arlene Shechet’s experimental approach to ceramic sculpture challenges the limits of gravity, color, and texture, defying conventions of classical techniques. She is known for transforming a seemingly chaotic mess into beauty. Her work marries form—fusing her kiln-fired creations with complex plinths formed of wood, steel, and concrete—with seductively textured applications of saturated color. Activating a visceral response, Shechet’s sculptures resemble that of a portrait bust, yet unlike classical sculpture, they are entirely abstract with no front or back.

Instead of making things that reflected how I felt, I decided to make things that reflected what I needed: color therapy.

Arlene Shechet

Arlene Shechet, Together: Pacific Time: 9 p.m., 2020, glazed ceramic, powder coated steel, 24" × 19" × 12-1/2" (61 cm × 48.3 cm × 31.8 cm), overall 12" × 19" × 12-1/2" (30.5 cm × 48.3 cm × 31.8 cm), ceramic 12" × 19" × 12-1/2" (30.5 cm × 48.3 cm × 31.8 cm), base

During the global pandemic of 2020, Shechet continued her experimental practice, but with an exploratory focus on how art might continue to serve as a source of visual and spiritual nourishment. The beguiling forms and jewel-toned surfaces of Shechet’s most recent sculptures register her ongoing search for the continued possibility of joy, even in times of extraordinary upheaval. Together: Pacific Time: 9 p.m evolved out of a conscious decision by Shechet to resist the urge to make work that reflected her own darkening mood during the early days of the pandemic. This sculpture combines a bold, textured red form with quasi-bodily voids, with a thin, precise, glossy steel stand. This contrast of form, texture and color is part of Shechet’s complex language of sculptural forms that she has been gradually developing over her career.

Kiki Smith, Transmission, 2016, blackened bronze, 13" × 24" × 12" (33 cm × 61 cm × 30.5 cm), overall with base 12-3/4" × 20-1/2" × 4-1/2" (32.4 cm × 52.1 cm × 11.4 cm), sculpture only

Kiki Smith

Recognized for her multidisciplinary practice, Kiki Smith’s distinctive visual language explores the mythological, spiritual and folkloric in relation to the human condition. This beguiling sculpture, Transmission, perfectly encapsulates the central tenets of Smith’s practice. She states, “We are part of the natural world and our identity is completely attached to our relationship to our habitat and animals. I am making images for things I think merit attention. It’s a quieter way.” It is this universal, yet oft forgotten, intersection of the human world and the natural world that captivates so much of Kiki Smith’s work.

Often leaving the interpretation of her work to viewers, Smith’s practice flourishes in the liminal space between the representative and otherworldly, humanity and nature. In Transmission, Smith renders a portrait bust of a female figure in her signature two-dimensional style. One might interpret the figure to be mother nature personified—the earthly elements entering and exiting (or transmitting) through her orifices. Alternatively, one might consider the shards of blackened bronze to be visual representations of the ways in which humans engage with the world: through our eyes, our mouth, our ears. Smith’s capacity to merge human figures with imagery from nature is at the centre of her work, it reminds us that all things—be they humans, animals, nature or the cosmos – are made of the same substance. In the end we are all just matter.

Antoni Tàpies, Petita sanguina III, 2000, paint, varnish, and pencil on paper, 11" x 12-3/16" (27.9 cm x 31 cm)

Antoni Tàpies

One of the 20th Century’s most influential European artists, Antoni Tàpies devoted more than six decades to exploring the theme of transformation, both physical and spiritual, through his emotionally intense artworks. Despite developments in his style, Tàpies worked on a singular body of work throughout his career, renowned for his hybrid paintings that would incorporate several materials. His goal was to “break away from the officially accepted languages and explore new directions”. Together, Boca sobre fons de vernis and Petita sanguina III, offer a path to see how Tàpies’s work reimagined the practice of painting.

Antoni Tàpies, Boca sobre fons de vernis, 1997, paint and varnish on paper, 22-1/16" × 30-1/8" (56 cm × 76.5 cm)

Tàpies’s distinctive visual language was inspired by a wide range of sources that he coalesced into a complex fusion of materials, gestures, and symbols. The “t,” painted in the center of the face in Petita sanguina III, is a common motif in Tàpies’s work; it reflects ideas of resistance, mystery and the unknown, or, more simply, it may refer to the first letter of the artist’s name. Boca sobre fons de vernis elicits a similar reaction as the smaller cross and mouth add a dimension of human presence to the image. Ambiguous but powerful, the repeated use of certain symbols refers both to the patterns of the natural world and the history of painting. Tàpies explained, “If one draws things in a manner which provides only the barest clue to their meaning, the viewer is forced to fill in the gaps by using his own imagination. [The viewer] is compelled to participate in the creative act, which I consider very important.”

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