ANTON GINZBURG EXPRESSES HIS VIEWS AT HELWASER GALLERY
by KRISTOPHER FRASER
COURTESY of HELWASER GALLERY
The recently opened Helwaser Gallery, which has come to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, presented its first solo exhibition of works with artist Anton Ginzburg last week, displaying his newest series, VIEWs. VIEWs presents Ginzburg’s engagement with the development of modernist-formal vocabulary in Eastern Europe, which addresses the theories of viewing.
“The exhibition is reanimating some of the Eastern European modernist ideas that were quite prevalent in the ‘20s and ‘30s and reappeared in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and looking at the next phase,” Ginzburg said. “You see how it fits with the contemporary context. A lot of the show is based on the emotion of color in space. The paintings are quite diagrammatic. I’m really coming to the essence of what makes an abstract painting, and taking those elements and playing with them.”
The paintings were executed on wooden panels of two distinct sizes, each work referencing diagrammatic representations of the binocular field of human vision. Based on the shape and geometry of the panels, abstract compositions are developed through color, plane, line.
“The language of the ‘60s and ‘70s are still quite present,” Ginzburg said. “This language is still quite present. A lot of the modernist ideas are resurfacing within the social context, and a lot of the things that were being planned at the time, we’re living right now. I was interested at looking at it from today’s point of view.”
Installation view of Anton Ginzburg: VIEWs. From left: Polychrome Column 10A_01 (2019), VIEW_5A_01 (2018)
“The ideas of universal language, universal style, and human rights are all relevant to revisit.”
In smaller-scale works, different planes of color overlap and intersect with each other, demonstrating the figure and ground perception within each work. In larger works, Ginzburg draws on the effects of movement of color through space. Collectively, the VIEW series analyzes the act of viewing and demonstrates the process through the material practice of painting.
Polychrome Column 10A_01 (2019) and Polychrome Column 10A_02 (2019) on display are a pair of multi-colored porcelain sculptures measuring 10 feet in height. Segmented into different colored modules, which are stacked on top of each other, the columns introduce a spatial dimension to the exhibition. Accompanying these columns is a site-specific mural, comprising bands of colored lines with mirrored, glass pieces superimposed over it. Placed in dialogue with the space of the gallery, these works create a dynamic viewing process, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the work.
“Something I am quite interested in is universalism, which is an idea of early modernism,” Ginzburg said. “The ideas of universal language, universal style, and human rights are all relevant to revisit. The idea of universal language has really been coming apart as European countries and the United States become more isolationist. It’s important to think about these ideas like human rights and communication which are universal.”
Installation view of Anton Ginzburg: VIEWs, VIEW_5A_02 (2018)
Also presented in the exhibition is Ginzburg’s earlier video work Color and Line (2013) based on the notion of space. A playful interpretation of Suprematist paintings and cinematic structure, the work was filmed in a laundry room, in between “cuts” of darkness (achieved by switching on and off the lights), creating a continuous sequence of color compositions that vary in placement.
“For me it was important to look at the space at large, as I’m very interested in architecture and collaborating with architects,” Ginzburg said. “I worked to establish a horizon line in the backgrounds, and creating environments for pairings, columns, and paintings. I wanted to create a staging for the piece that changed with the consciousness of the viewer that would change depending on what the viewer was looking at.”
Scholar and curator Meghan Forbes said in her catalogue essay that VIEWs belies and resists a connection to the notion of faktura, as it operated in the context of the historical Russian avant-garde. Faktura is often translated as “texture,” but it also encompasses the act of layering, be it of colors, words, sounds, that amounts to a construction. Ginzburg maintains that strategy in several other paintings in the series.
VIEWs will be on display at Helwaser Gallery until May 23.
Installation view of Anton Ginzburg: VIEWs. From left: Polychrome Column 10A_01 (2019), VIEW_5A_01 (2018).
Installation view of Anton Ginzburg: VIEWs. From left: VIEW_5A_03 (2018), VIEW_5A_04 (2018), Polychrome Column 10A_02 (2019).
Installation view of Anton Ginzburg: VIEWs. From left: New York Color-Space Initiative #5 and COEV Composition #12 (2019), Color and Line (2013), VIEW_5A_02 (2018).