Kay Rosen: Stirring Wirds

Feb 22, 2018 - Apr 7, 2018

Alexander Gray Associates

510 West 26 Street
New York, NY 10001

Time: Opening Reception: Thursday, February 22, 2018, 6–8 PM
Phone Number: +1 212 399 2636
Contact: info@alexandergray.com
Website: http://www.alexandergray.com/artists/kay-rosen
Description:

Alexander Gray Associates presents Kay Rosen: Stirring Wirds, the artist's first exhibition with the Gallery. Focused on recent work, the exhibition underscores a political conscience that grounds Rosen's five decade career exploring the use of language and text.

Rosen's work mines the visual characteristics of words and letters, typography and syntax. Extensive research and experimentation results in deceptively simple graphic works, where form and meaning interplay. She creates precisely crafted canvases, works on paper, wall paintings, prints, collages, and videos that engage the viewer with a word game, or an elemental sign. It is after a first read, however, that Rosen's artistry emerges: through a process of reading, her words become images with unfolding and multifold meanings and narratives. Throughout her works, Rosen deploys language as found material, pushing content and form to guide one another. As writer Rhonda Lieberman describes, Rosen "sets herself up as the revealer of language, but sidesteps the role of its consciousness."

Anchoring the presentation are two wall murals. Installed in the ground floor gallery is Trickle Down (2016/18) an obelisk of text with "TRICK" as the topmost row, and the subsequent letters cascading down as a central column beneath. With this work, Rosen responds to current economic policies in the U.S., connecting the present moment to histories of deception and stratification. In the second floor gallery, the enormously-scaled wall painting White House v. America (2018), impacts with more aggression and visual heft. In this work, the letters abbreviate and exclaim the divisive political moment. Rosen, speaking of her impetus with the political context of current work explains. "In the past I have gone where the language has led me, but in these times, out of priorities, anger, and urgency, I have made artworks whose texts pertain in some way only to the current political situation." Rosen's political concerns are not myopic, nor are they directed at a single figure. Rather, they point to the systemic structures that have put human rights at great risk, and a framework in which political events and communities define one another. In a selection of two smaller paintings on canvas and seven new acrylic gouache works on paper, Rosen has challenged and reinvigorated her long-held ways of working; she has changed her font of twenty years and introduced a newly translucent application of paint. Referencing the birthplace of the LGBTQIA movement, Stonewall (2017) consists consists of the title's letters arranged in a stacked form, convening a group of individuals into a crowd, and demonstrating solidarity of "one" and "all." The injustices enacted against indigenous peoples are described in IOU (2017); through color and design, Rosen illustrates economic injustice and geographic formations that evoke the legacies of colonialism and imperialism.

Rosen's exploration of political frameworks dates to the 1980s, and earlier works reinforce that political cycles are a constant. Trickle Down (2016/18) is presented alongside Uh Oh Eek (1986), expressing discomfort of the Reagan era and its policies. As the artist explains, the open-endedness of works which do not identify specific perpetrators, "provide a sympathetic verbal framework in which to insert any despot, thug, racist, idiot, villain, and their followers, or you-name-it national/global disaster. Viewers, as mutual users of language and co-participants in the shared fallout from worldwide crisis, will supply their own associations."

Kay Rosen's work is currently on view in the permanent collections of Art Institute of Chicago, IL and Indianapolis Museum of Art and as part of Incomplete History of Protest: Selections From The Whitney's Collection, 1940-2017 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. Her work will be featured in upcoming exhibitions at Musée d'art moderne et contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva; This Brush For Hire, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and as part of Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, curated by Michelle Grabner. Rosen's work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and installations at Aldrich Contemporary Museum Ridgefield, CT (2017); Contemporary Art Museum Houston,, TX, and Grazer Kunstverein (2016), a collaboration with Matt Keegan; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2014); Aspen Art Museum (2012); Museum of Fine Arts,Boston, MA (2011-13); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2013); Art Institute of Chicago, IL(2011); Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand (2004); University Art Museum, University of California Santa Barbara (2004); The Drawing Center, New York, NY(2002); M.I.T. List Visual Art Center, Cambridge, MA (1997); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (1994); Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN (1994); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (1990); and New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY (1984). The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA in conjunction with Otis College of Art Design in Los Angeles, CA organized a two-venue mid-career survey exhibition of Rosen's work entitled Kay Rosen: Li[f]eli[k]e (1998-99). Rosen has also been included in many group exhibitions internationally including Tang Museum of Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2014); Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1996, 2012); Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (2012); Honolulu Museum of Art, HI (2012); Christchurch Public Art Gallery, New Zealand (2011, 2012 ongoing); the inaugural exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA (2008); Prospect.1, New Orleans, LA (2008); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), North Adams, MA (1999, 2001); and Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (1991). Rosen was included in the Whitney Biennial 2000 and the 1991 Whitney Biennial as part of Group Material's "AIDS Timeline."

Rosen is currently a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, awarded in 2017. She has received three National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Arts Grants to date (1987, 1989, 1995), an Anonymous Was a Woman Grant (1995), the SJ Weiler Fund Award (2014), and the Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work from the College Art Association (2014). Rosen taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 24 years. Her work is included in the permanent collections of Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Progressive Art Collection, Mayfield Village, OH; Rebaudengo Collection, Turin, Italy; Collection Lambert, Avignon, France; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Event Type: Exhibition