Laura Owens Announces New Installation at Art Basel 2012


Gavin Brown's enterprise just announced that acclaimed Los Angeles-based artist Laura Owens will present a major new installation work at Art Unlimited at Art Basel 2012.

Five years in the making, Untitled, 2007 - 2012, takes as its starting point two everyday objects – the clock and the book – that enjoy long histories within the worlds of folk art and artisanship. Owens has co-opted this freighted pair in an ambitious cycle of more than 90 small paintings and more than 50 handmade volumes containing over one thousand pages of unique drawings, watercolors, collages and hand-printed images. Presented in a single enveloping space where visitors will be invited to browse through the books, Untitled, 2007 - 2012, exalts the poetics of craft in a world of mass production. This unprecedented work reveals the breadth of Laura Owens' approach to painting and reflects her ideas about time and temporality, repetition and seriality. Most of all, Untitled, 2007 - 2012, shows the artist expanding the boundaries of painting itself, while leaving the creative hierarchies of the medium far behind.

Untitled, 2007 - 2012, is presented by Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York; Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne; and Sadie Coles HQ, London. The project will be accompanied by a 176-page full color book, Laura Owens: Clocks,published by Karma, New York, and released at Art Basel 2012.

InUntitled, 2007 - 2012, Owens' handmade books will be laid out upon a long wooden trestle table designed by the artist. Each cover is unique; many are painted, embroidered, collaged or letter-pressed. The subjects of the books mine the various influences, interests and creative processes that occupy Owens and filter into her painted work. Those influences range from Cezanne, Bridget Riley and Maurice Denis, to instruction manuals about Jacobean embroidery and crewelwork. Owens also cites among her fascinations the 2002 chess final between Judit Polgár – the Hungarian grandmaster considered the strongest female chess player in history - and Garry Kasparov, in a drama that unfolds two moves per page. Visitors will be able to open and examine the books on view. "The temporal nature of a book can be unfolded by the viewer," Owens explains. "This intimate experience can mimic our experience with a painting."<

Untitled, 2007 – 2012 also presents 92 paintings, each 24 x 24 inches, hanging in two rows on the four walls surrounding the table of books. For each canvas Owens has used the image of an analog clock as a loose template, overlaying the idea of a clock and representations of time onto each in a series that moves back and forth between figuration and abstraction. In some works, motorized clock hands bring kinetic movement to the paintings. Quick-witted punning spins across other canvases, with hands and faces of clocks replaced by human faces and hands. Elsewhere the clock seems to dissolve into painterly gestures as the paintings make their way through such diverse styles as Pattern and Decoration, Op Art, Picasso-esque portraiture, Abstract Expressionism and geometric formalism. Art historical references are co-opted with finesse and a clear-eyed sense of no-fuss entitlement, in service to a larger goal: Owens' own precise vision for what makes a painting visually compelling and pleasurable to behold.

Born in Euclid Ohio in 1970 and educated at Rhode Island School of Design and the California Institute of the Arts, Laura Owens came to prominence in Los Angeles in the late 1990's as one of the leading painters of her generation. In 1992 she received a BFA from the Rhode Island School and graduated in 1994 with an M.F.A from The California Institute of the Arts. In 2003 she was the youngest artist to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. She has had solo exhibitions at international venues such as the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, and the Kunstalle, Zürich. Her work is included in the collections of major museum collections internationally, including the Whitney Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Owens conflates styles and techniques from across the history of art and beyond, and her paintings resist classification. Drawing from such diverse sources as craft, fine art and folk art, she creates abundant references that coexist within her work. Curator Paul Schimmel noted in his 2003 monographic catalogue, "Owens has found a language that questions the nature of painting while embracing its multifarious manifestations."