Perrotin Shanghai is pleased to announce Paradise, a solo exhibition by New York based artist, Josh Sperling. This is his sixth show with the gallery, and his first in China.
Sperling draws on the language of minimalist painting from the 1960s and 1970s, working primarily with shaped canvases. He crafts intricate plywood supports over which canvas is stretched and painted in an extending series of signature palettes. In their three-dimensionality, his works blur the lines between painting and sculpture, image and object. Mining a wide range of sources, from design to art history, Sperling has crafted a unique visual vocabulary remarkable for its expressive quality and irrepressible energy.
Paradise, Sperling’s largest exhibition to date, introduces numerous innovations to his honed repertoire. Sperling here announces both formal and technical developments that signal a bold and exciting direction. New to this exhibition—the addition of stylistic treatments and, in some occurrences, the stark removal of all color, a gesture that reveals the shaped forms in their natural states.
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.
On display throughout the exhibition is a range of Sperling’s recurrent forms—Squiggles, Composites, and Double Bubbles. Squiggles, as the name denotes are canvases that resemble large scale doodles but constructed with a beguiling sense of complexity.
Composites mark the meeting point of many of Sperling’s forms. Here, clusters of shaped canvases nestle in and over each other, jostling for position and calling our attention from all directions. Elsewhere in the show are distinct formations of Double Bubbles, small dumb-bell shaped tiered canvases arranged to form larger geometric structures. In certain instances, these double bubbles appear in strict square grids that recall minimal art.
The composites are made of many shapes interacting with each other. Adding fabric is a way to distinguish one shape from the one next to it and to give them each their own character, to have something else than color distinguish them… I also want to keep myself interested in my own work. I am always extremely curious, always trying something new.
Sperling debuts new circular mandala-like arrangements this time. Throughout these forms on display, Sperling experiments with minimal tones, gradients, and also the entire removal of color. Without tones, the viewer is left to examine the formalist puzzle-like ingenuity of the component constructions without interruption—a striking advancement that’s impossibly bold and contemplative in equal measure.
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