Frieze London 2023
Booth C13 | The Regent's Park, 13 Park Square W, London
Preview (invitiation-only): October 11–12, 2023
Public Days: October 13–15, 2023
Alexander Gray Associates presents recent and historical works by Chloë Bass, Teresa Burga, Bethany Collins, Harmony Hammond, Jennie C. Jones, Carrie Moyer, Betty Parsons, Joan Semmel, and Valeska Soares. The Gallery’s presentation highlights these artists’ innovative approaches to abstraction, materiality, and representation.
Joan Semmel challenges the objectification and fetishization of women’s bodies by redefining the female nude through radical imagery that celebrates the aging process—refuting centuries of art historical idealization. Paintings like Red Stick (1991) from her Locker-Room series (1988–91), which features a nude woman applying lipstick in front of a mirror, mark Semmel’s first investigations into the aging female body. Boasting refracted and reflected images of the artist’s own figure, this work precedes canvases currently on view in Semmel’s one-person exhibition at the Gallery’s Chelsea location that capture her body in continual motion against a wall.
In contrast to Semmel’s commitment to re-presenting the female nude, Betty Parson’s practice was defined by an experimental and elastic approach to abstraction; as she once explained, she was interested not in capturing what something “looked like,” but rather “what it made me feel.” Her informal and playful compositions like Landscape without Tree (1973) were deeply influenced by the spontaneity and verve of the New York School and the emotive brushwork of Color Field painting. Expanding on processes common to Color Field painters like Parsons, Carrie Moyer employs strategies and techniques found in graphic design in her paintings and works on paper like Arch (2017) and Arrangement #13 (2022). Achieving multidimensional effects through gradation, transparency, and shadows, Moyer builds her compositions layer-by-layer, using thin veils of aqueous color and juxtaposing heavily textured forms against silhouetted biomorphic shapes. While Moyer integrates layers of primary colors in a complex arrangement on a two-dimensional plane, Teresa Burga adopted a systemic approach to creating bold, colorful three-dimensional works, like Untitled / Prismas (B) (1968/2013). Developed while Burga was a member of the group Arte Nuevo (New Art)—a collective of artists interested in advancing genres of Pop, minimalism, Op Art, and happenings in Peru—this and other related geometric structures were designed to be built by anyone with the assistance of a schematic diagram, an approach that questions traditional notions of artistic authorship.
Meanwhile, both Chloë Bass and Bethany Collins consider the United States’ current political climate in their text-based works. Documenting the days of political disturbances between 2016–17, Bass’s glass studies from her #sky #nofilter (2016–23) body of work feature photographs of cloudless blue skies presented on intimately scaled square glass panels engraved with poetic phrases written by the artist. Like Bass, Collins reflects the nature of contemporary America in her Aeneid series. In The Aeneid: 2021 / 1697 (2022), she presents hand-written passages taken from Virgil’s epic blown up to a monumental scale. Painstakingly erasing the text using a Pink Pearl, her hands, and even her saliva, Collins removes virtually all the text to emphasize the experiences of an unmoored and increasingly lost populace. Referencing both a history of minimalist painting and sculpture and old adages about books taking readers on a journey, Valeska Soares also incorporates literature as a material in her practice. Installed leaning against a wall, Threshold (Red) (2014) features red linen covered books arranged on a doorway-like frame. As Soares’s installation suggests a portal through which viewers can be transported, Jennie C. Jones’s Acoustic Paintings like Small, Soft Break (2022) physically and aurally extend outwards to actively engage viewers. Composed of layered felt and acoustic panels, this and similar works subvert the flat formalism of minimalist painting to highlight the perception of sound within the visual arts.
Featuring works from the past seven decades, this presentation reflects the Gallery’s engagement with artists working across cultural, social, and political spheres, underscoring Semmel’s belief that, “We do not experience the moment in isolation from the past. Rather, each moment is part of a layering process … by which we build meaning from our past and present experience.”