Perrotin Hong Kong is pleased to announce Spectrum, a solo exhibition by New York- based artist, Josh Sperling. This marks the artist’s first show in Hong Kong. Building upon and extending from formal breakthroughs, Sperling works with shaped canvases that blur the lines between painting and sculpture, amongst which are his signature “squiggles” and “double bubbles”.
On view in this debut exhibition is a large, immersive squiggle piece consisting of his physical “lines” on the entirety of the three walls of one gallery room, for which the artist uses the spectrum to guide his color choices. In the second gallery room, different sized tondos made of “double bubbles” and circular forms are displayed on all the walls, covered in paint applied using abstract expressionist techniques.
Defying conventional definitions, the “squiggles” and “double bubbles” are painted sculptural forms. In order to make these hybrid forms, the artist has developed a meticulous process that culminates in canvas stretched by hand over a precisely stepped plywood support in the shape of a curving or wavy line (squiggle) or two circles that seem to be stretching apart (double bubble). Once Sperling finishes a form, he applies acrylic paint and a varnish, careful in navigating between a matte and glossy surface.
Site-specificity is central to my practice...When you manipulate the scale—forcing viewers to take a step back or a gaze downward—the experience of viewing work becomes active. It becomes physical.
The result is a joyful possibility. Having freed his lines from the painting’s physical limitations, Sperling uses his “squiggles” to “draw” on the wall, constrained only by its physical parameters. In the case of the double bubbles, he fits them together with single circular forms to form tondos where the hues can shift from form to form. Placed in carefully planned configurations on the wall, the “squiggles” are sinuous, physical marks suggesting movement.
“Illusion is also very important to me: the underlying structure gives the illusion of something, it is mysterious… When the squiggles are skinnier they have one central layer, in the middle they have two and when they are very large they have three. That is a result of wanting to give the work an organic life-like feel, like the rings of a tree that grows with layers.
Born in 1984 in Oneonta, New York, Sperling has absorbed and re-imagined painting by drawing inspiration from the abstract expressionists, mid-twentieth century abstraction (minimalism, color field, and conceptual art), Memphis Group designs, and MTV logos, ultimately charting his own course.
Sperling begins every piece by drawing on the computer, first with gestural lines, then figuring out the shapes that can fill the negative space between those squiggly lines. Color is the last step in the artist's process. He always uses hand-mixed pigment, which he keeps track of in multiple encyclopedic books in his studio.
Born in 1984 in Oneonta, New York, USA
Lives and works in Ithaca, New York, USA
The genesis of Josh Sperling’s work springs from kaleidoscopic distillations of multiple art forms and design movements. From the high canon of mid century minimalism, whereby Sperling’s shaped canvases emanate, to the more industrial replication of form and function found within product and furniture design, Sperling confidently straddles the line between high and low. Sperling’s process begins by meticulously stretching raw canvases over intricate plywood structures and then treating them in a signature palette of colors. These forms are then combined in a puzzle-like array with competing structures, effectively (and energetically) dissolving the barrier between painting and sculpture.
—More about the artist