Jacqueline Humphries at Modern Art

After the Whiteney Biennale in New York earlier this year, Jacqueline Humphries comes to London with a new set of large abstract paintings. For her third solo show with Stuart Shave / Modern Art, the American painter was given both spaces in Helmet Row and Fitzroy Square to further invest and work on. Instead of replicating a similar display in each location, the artist chose to take advantage of having two spaces by creating totally different shows: two microcosms that both dialogue and contradict one another.

Jacqueline Humphries, exhibition view at Modern Art, 2014

The Helmet Row’s space is the one Jacqueline Humphries used more conventionally. The white high ceiling walls are covered with her large abstract paintings. The size of the room and the neutral aspect of the white give the paintings a real space to inhabit. The series on display presents recurrent features: canvases used are always square formats, the background – either plane or doted – is recovered by hasty and dynamic brush strokes, and sometimes by larger spreads of paint which blur the surface and gives an unfinished and spectral look to the paintings. On each of them, a single colour touch is added – either blue, purple or yellow – which illuminate the all painting.

The Fitzroy Square space is as spectacular as the previous one, and maybe even more as the scenography is quite unusual. The fluorescent paintings are hanged on dark purple walls and illuminated by ultraviolet lights, which transform them in unreal plane surfaces being absorbed by the walls. Sometimes the light puts forward some distinctive lines, sometimes it is the ghostly background that comes up: all is a matter of light and reflection. Overall, the exhibition makes you feel you are entering a totally new dimension. The darkness enables you to break into the space and fully live the experience offered by the painter.

Jacqueline Humphries, exhibition view at Modern Art, 2014
Jacqueline Humphries, exhibition view at Modern Art, 2014

“I start a painting by finishing it, then may proceed to unfinish it, make holes in it or undo it in various ways, as a kind of escape from that finitude, or wiping down the canvas, getting at what is behind the painting, what is the real of the canvas and support. That’s usually a way of building my conflict about painting into the very act. And I ask myself questions: does painting even have an interior? Is it all exterior? Can you enter it, or are you just up against a wall?” *

Jacqueline Humphries, exhibition view at Modern Art, 2014
Jacqueline Humphries, exhibition view at Modern Art, 2014

“Often I find myself entering in through the corners as a way to violate the field. Huge portions of the paintings get removed and washed out over a number of sessions. Colors get lost and covered over and other portions are torn out. The whole ground, in the end, becomes this puzzled together yet semi-unified field of patches, with parts removed and absences, that bears traces of certain acts that had occurred, which are like clues.” *

Jacqueline Humphries, Exhibition view at Modern Art, 2014

* Quotes from Art in America Magazine

For more information about the exhibition, please visit Stuart Shave / Modern Art website.

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