- Polly Apfelbaum
Color Stations Portland
March 16 – April 26, 2014
In Polly's words...
"Some work is fast and some work is slow, in the making and in contemplating. I like the idea that the fast is slow and the slow can be fast, mixing up notions of time. The Color Stations are very direct in the making but I put them on slow time for me in the thinking about.
When I went to Rome everyone said don't worry about getting a lot of work done, it will come in its own time. That was very much the case with The Color Stations. They came late in my time in Rome, after all the new/old references had a chance to settle in. They started as studio work that also became a rotating installation and a private exhibition for me. I think of them in the in-between space of public/private. The Color Stations are loosely based on the Stations of the Cross, but not in a narrative or religious sense. I was thinking about the movement and order of thought, of color and light, the Annunciation's and all the Fra Angelico paintings in Saint Marco, Renaissance drapery, the way that curtains conceal and reveal, and I was thinking about monochromatic painting. Condensing and slowing all those references, I was thinking about the spiritual in abstraction, as well as the spiritual in the ritual of meditation and the church.
The 14 Color Stations are part of a larger series of Color Sessions: 'sessions' in the sense of musicians getting together for a number of takes, going through the score again and again, not toward some definitive version, but each take being as important as the other. This is the way my work has functioned for a long time: installations that change in response to a new space, but always keep something constant. For me to install The Color Stations in the lumber room would be another take, another session. The work takes on new meaning in a new context. Another sense of the idea of 'stations' that is important to me is that they are not a destination, but a stop along the way to something else, something beyond the work. The lumber room becomes another in-between space.
So for me color sessions make total sense in this context. There is another aspect that has been consistent in my work, which is that fabric can never be totally controlled and is never the same. It has a mind of its own and is open to chance. I think about John Cage, along with Morris Graves and Mark Toby and the time they spent together in the Pacific Northwest - both the larger sense of the spiritual in art but also the idea that this work takes on its own form, subject to gravity and the weave of the cloth as much as the artist's will.
I have always felt like an in-between artist, working in the space between painting and sculpture, between narrative and abstraction, between form and color, control and chance, beauty and not beauty. There is a quote from Saul Leiter that I like a lot: "I must admit I am not a member of the ugly school. I have a great regard for certain notions of beauty, even though to some it is an old fashioned idea. Some photographers think by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more profound than happiness"
Polly Apfelbaum is a winner of the 2013 Rome Prize. A New York-based artist since 1978, she has been showing her work consistently in the United States and internationally since her first one person show in 1986. Recent solo exhibitions include "Plainiverse," Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna; "Flatland: color revolts," Hansel and Gretel Pictures Gardens, NYC; "Flatterland: Funkytown, D'Amelio Gallery," D'Amelio Gallery, NYC. Recent group shows include "Regarding Warhol," Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; and "Simpatico," Boston University. Her work is part of many important public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Dallas Museum, to name a few. She is represented by Clifton Benevento in New York City, Frith Street Gallery in London, and Galerie nächst St. Stephan in Vienna.