press release

Opening on Friday, April 7, 2006, David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of sculpture and works on paper by New York artist Katy Schimert. This will be the artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery, and is the culmination of several years of focused studio work. Schimert is known for her work in diverse media – drawing, sculpture and film. This exhibition will include entirely new works, among them large scale drawings, an installation of head and tree forms, a life-size figurative sculpture, and a major new work in bronze.

Katy Schimert uses fragments of personal experience as conceptual impetus; the intersection of the fine and decorative arts is a formal point of departure. Densely layered and vaguely topographical, her drawings suggest sequences of cosmic or otherworldly events populated by ethereal human figures. In her intricate three-dimensional works, the human form is a physical container for encoded thoughts and symbols. Schimert’s dynamic surfaces, which continue to unfold after prolonged viewing, are essentially volumetric drawings (she draws and paints on the exteriors of the forms, and cites Greek vase painting as an influence). Fully manipulating and reinventing each surface, Schimert creates what she describes as “space for illusion.” The results of this investigation are not only visually compelling, but formally succinct – this allows Schimert’s works in various media to meld together as many pieces of a broad, ongoing visual essay.

Among the sculptures on view will be a group of barren winter trees made from delicate patterns of wire, creating a manmade garden in the main gallery. With constructed networks of colored and copper wires as light-reflective surfaces, the trees suggest a metaphor for life and death yet transcend mere symbolic interpretation. Larger-than-life-sized head forms, made from pressed paper pulp and placed on traditional pedestals, are three-dimensional continuations of Schimert’s pictorial investigations, yet reside in a place that is equally classical and contemporary. The exterior of each head depicts a visual account of an emotional event – a poetically-deconstructed sequence without an obvious beginning or end. Within her lyrical vocabulary are orange suns, vein-like tracks of bright washy color, and floating figures – some upside down, defying gravity. Fully-formed human hands interact with more abstract elements, their pulse points becoming orbs of warm reds and yellows, saturated purples, and blues.

Two seminal works in the show – a headless statue of Mars, the Roman god of War, and a bronze head with hollow eyes – underscore the artist’s interest in the impact of historical events on our collective consciousness. An open chest reveals the interior structure of the sculpture, suggesting the vulnerability of both the medium and the subject matter – implying that the intimacy of surface can function, in and of itself, as a point of entry for introspection.


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Katy Schimert