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Pure Perception: Kristin Baker, Laura Owens, Mai-Thu Perret, Amanda Ross-Ho (Milan)    May 9 - Sep 22, 2012


The gallery will be closed in August.

Pure Perception: Kristin Baker, Laura Owens, Mai-Thu Perret, Amanda Ross-Ho

Curated by Margherita Artoni

Opening: Wednesday 9 May at 6 pm

With the exhibition 'Pure Perception' Monica De Cardenas Gallery presents new work by four young and acclaimed contemporary artists. The project, curated by Margherita Artoni, sets out to redefine the need for abstraction through an aesthetic itinerary that attempts to bring out the 'pars construens' of the perceptive dimension of the work.

Approaching the concept of “abstraction” today makes us run the risk of seeming to have all-too-widespread and in some ways anachronistic aims. Much has already been conceived and created in this fertile territory, starting with philosophical irrationalism and the first experiments of the Fauves, all the way to the research of recent years. The rise of abstract art has managed to subvert, in the span of over one century, the traditional idea of chromatic intervention, the equilibrium of forms, the role of the artist, granting an utterly new raison d'être to the perception of “beauty”. A “pure” perception, removed from the denotative factor of the image, proudly (re)appropriating those plastic values that actually coincide with the creative root of any artwork: color, space, structure, material. In abstract art, then, the figurative intent is challenged to favor the hypothesis of an “other” language, where the Saussurean dichotomy between signified and signifier tends to flatten on the same semiotic level, forcing the observer to interpret, as well as comprehend, an image of uncertain context. Nevertheless, in spite of appearances, abstract art is not a chaotic tangle that emerges from the simple omission or distortion of the figure. Instead, it is a “primordial soup” with essential properties, from which the artist can draw to develop his or her own expressive code; articolate and coherent, like the less avant-garde productions, but at the same time capable of engaging the two “actors” of the aesthetic experience in a relationship of dialogue, open to infinite changes. To be able to find an authentic sense of contemporary abstract practice, then, we need to start with these premises, abandoning the praise of abstraction seen as rejection of the realistic figure, and trying to redefine the movement in terms of new propositions. This is where the tension between light and color found in the paintings of Kristin Baker, the formal harmony of Laura Owens, the utopias of Mai-Thu Perret and the dialectic between memory and present explored by Amanda Ross-Ho can bear eloquent witness to a conceptual breakthrough whose theoretical foundations lie in the hermeneutic potential of pure perception.

Kristin Baker was born in 1975 in Stamford, Connecticut. She lives and works in New York. After having devoted much of her career to semi-figurative representation of climactic automobile races and catastrophic landscapes, the American painter's new works specifically investigate acts of perception and presence through an intensified engagement with abstraction. Her mechanical processes, at once ritualistic and spontaneous, create visceral spaces. Dynamic spectrums of atmosphere, forms of light, and vivid elements of our physical reality, as well as layered references to the discourse of painting, embed and materialize in Kristin's paintings.

Selected solo shows: National Art Center of Tokyo 2011; Museum of Fine Arts Boston 2010; Centre Pompidou, Paris 2004. Group shows: Saatchi Gallery, London 2009; Denver Art Museum 2009; Francois Pinault Collection, Palazzo Grassi, Venice 2007; MoCA Shanghai; Permanent Collection Installation, Whitney Museum, New York 2007; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY 2004.

Laura Owens was born in 1970 in Euclid, Ohio. She lives and works in Los Angeles. Her poetics opposes the conventional objective of establishing a hierarchic relationship among images through the critical reworking of details, stripped of decorative function to govern the space of the canvas in a harmonious balance between full and empty zones. Simultaneously analytical and neo-romantic, the pictorial synthesis of Owens manages in any case to weave a virtuous dialogue between form and color, without rejecting the modernist tradition of painting.

Selected solo shows: Kunstmuseum Bonn 2011; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht 2011; Ausstellungshalle zeitgenössische Kunst, Münster 2007; Kunsthalle Zurich 2006; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami 2004; Aspen Art Museum 2003. Group shows: MoCA Los Angeles 2011; Francois Pinault Collection, Palazzo Grassi, Venezia 2011; Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin 2007; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles 2004.

Mai-Thu Perret was born in 1976 in Geneva, where she lives and works. Perret comes to grips with the stereotypes of modernism and the various versions of utopian lyricism, developing a wide range of expressive possibilities, from painting to sculpture, video to installation. She is extremely interested in art history and crafts, using elements from the past in a contemporary way, and seeing abstraction as an ideal tool to give completed form to new, visionary “possible worlds”.

Selected solo shows: Kunsthaus Aarau 2011; Magasin, Grenoble 2011; Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich 2011; MAMCO, Geneva 2011; The Aspen Art Museum 2009; SF MoMa, San Francisco 2009; Kunsthalle St.Gallen 2008; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht 2007; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva 2005. Group shows: 54th Venice Biennale, Venice 2011; Swiss Institute, New York 2011; Malmö Konsthall, Malmö 2010; Haus der Kunst, Munich 2010; Migros Museum, Zurich 2010; Athens Biennial, Athens 2009.

Amanda Ross-Ho was born in 1975 in Chicago. She lives and works in Los Angeles. In her works intimate memories and fragments of real life alternate, generating an abstraction of a Bergsonian character that starts from the latent substrate of memory to embrace the contingency every human being must interpret on an everyday basis. The artist deploys a creative effort with multiple meanings, dense in semiotic inspiration and universally comprehensible only if observed with a relaxed, reflective gaze, ready to appreciate the “organic” yet always “familiar” complexity of the artwork.

Selected solo shows: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2012; Visual Arts Center, University of Texas, Austin 2011; Pomona College Museum of Art, Pomona, 2010. Group shows: MoCA Los Angeles; Queens Museum of Art, Queens NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art 2011; Rubell Family Collection, Miami 2010; New Museum, New York 2010; MoMa, New York 2010; MoCA Los Angeles 2010; MoCa, Chicago 2010; Saatchi Gallery, London 2009; Whitney Museum, New York 2008.

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