Günther Uecker: Shields
LGDR, New York
November 15 - December 23, 2022
Günther Uecker: Shields (2022) showcased the artist’s lifelong exploration of nails, paint, and graphite as symbolic materials. The exhibition presented all nine paintings from Uecker’s recent Shields series (2022), debuted a related series on paper, and featured a pivotal and rarely seen sculpture from 1967. Uecker wrote earlier in the year that his work “begins where speech fails: in the perception of world and of violence.” The exhibition was on view until December 23, 2022. It marked LGDR’s final presentation at 909 Madison Avenue before relocating to its flagship at 19 East 64th Street in 2023.
On the second floor, Uecker’s new series of nail reliefs, which inspired the exhibition’s name, captivated with bold graphite marks, white swirls of paint, and intricate nail patterns. These canvases portray the artist’s experimentation with the format, displaying vulnerability through more restrained and exposed compositions. The Shields series was created during the artist’s pandemic isolation, serving as a mode of healing and introspection. Uecker’s hammering technique, rooted in his experiences during the Second World War, addresses social and environmental crises, symbolizing protection and personal representation.
Connecting the two floors, Swabs (2022) comprises forty-two paintings on paper. Vertical strokes and atmospheric spirals of graphite intersected and intertwined with paint, capturing essential elements of Uecker’s artistic process. The marks integrated bodily traces into the surfaces, resulting in an interplay of transparency and opacity that transcended materiality. The spectral presence of Swabs exemplifies Uecker’s ability to evoke resonance beyond physicality. On the first floor, visitors encountered the two-part sculpture Kubuskubus (1967), exploring materiality and perception. The sculpture featured metal cubes balanced on layers of lead with densely hammered nails. Here, Uecker disrupted geometric order to evoke vibrations and variability, inviting viewers to contemplate movement and beauty. Kubuskubus engages the viewer in a dialogue, referencing the human body’s dimensions and inviting phenomenological reflections on relationships and space.