Günther Uecker: Notations
Lévy Gorvy, New York
November 7, 2019 - January 25, 2020
Günther Uecker: Notations (2019–20) brought together new large-scale nail paintings with a selection of a series of watercolors made by Uecker during his global travels over the past three decades. The exhibition was the first to juxtapose these disparate bodies of work, providing deeper insights into Uecker’s practice and the sociopolitical concerns that have informed his artistic efforts over the past 60 years. Notations was the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery in New York.
To create his signature nail paintings, Uecker stretches canvas over thick wooden panels and mixes white paint and carpenter’s glue into a dense surface. Then, he hammers nails into the panels—intuitively varying their placement, angle, and groupings—to form undulating painted reliefs that cast shadows in constant motion. Unified by pictorial composition and material presence, the nails project out into the viewer’s space, suggesting forces of growth and movement, unity and disruption, order and entropy. A highlight of the exhibition was Weisser Schrei (White Scream, 2019), a painting Uecker describes as a self-portrait.
Uecker’s watercolors reveal a wholly different but essential part of the artist’s practice. Autonomous from but parallel to his studio work, the watercolors are made spontaneously “on the road” by an inveterate traveler responding to his experiences in far-flung locales. In the tradition of the Romantics, Uecker records the intense sensations evoked by landscapes, plant life, architecture, and qualities of light and atmosphere. Uecker’s watercolors abstract these encounters into idiosyncratic forms and intense colors, capturing the artist’s sense of wonder at the natural world. Through these watercolors, Notations will explore the impact that Uecker’s travels across Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Israel, Japan, the United States, Vietnam, and other places have had upon him as an artist.