MARCH 24 – 26, 2016
Dominique Lévy is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong with a booth that bridges parallel movements in Europe, America, and Asia and explores global tendencies in modern and contemporary art. Featuring works by Enrico Castellani, Yves Klein, Chung Sang-Hwa, Kazuo Shiraga, Pierre Soulages, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, and Günther Uecker, as well as Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Rudolf Stingel, and Lee Ufan, Dominique Lévy’s booth weaves a cross-cultural narrative, placing together a diverse group of artists in dialogue in their sensibility and approach to the language of abstraction. Many of these artists travelled extensively throughout their careers and drew inspiration from the aesthetic and cultural traditions of foreign nations. For others, overseas scholars and curators provided a platform for international recognition. In exhibiting a wide variety of artists working in the mid-twentieth century, Dominique Lévy’s booth will examine the various concerns and tendencies that arose throughout the world, variegated by individual artists’ sociopolitical backgrounds and commitments, in the postwar generation.
While travelling through Japan in the early 1950s as a judo student, Yves Klein was exposed to Zen Buddhism and became preoccupied with its central idea of nothingness. Klein had begun painting monochromes in 1947, rejecting what he saw as the stultifying tradition of figurative painting. After studying the ideas of the infinite and the immeasurable in Zen Buddhism, Klein began predominantly using an intense, deep shade of blue that he believed embodied the concept of the void. In 1957, when he felt he had perfected the pigment to the extent that it embodied pure space, Klein registered a patent for the colour. Klein’s Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 231), from 1959, is on view in Dominique Lévy’s booth. Dominique Lévy Gallery represents the Estate of Yves Klein in the United States and featured work by the artist in its inaugural exhibition, Audible Presence: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly (2013). The Tate Liverpool will hold a retrospective of Klein’s short career from October 2016 to March 2017.
Introduced to Eastern schools of thought by Klein, Günther Uecker took interest in philosophies that advocated simplicity and purity, such as Buddhism and Taoism. In line with this, he has sustained an investigation into the Buddhist association of the colour white with peace, rest, and contemplation, creating monochrome canvases in order to open up a ‘space of spiritual existence’. 1 Uecker’s study of Eastern purification rites led him to engage in his own rituals of repetition; he hammers multitudes of nails into painted board to evoke serialism and movement. One of Uecker’s seminal nail paintings, Serielles Nagelobjekt (1968), is included in Dominique Lévy Gallery’s booth. A comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s work was shown last year at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (February – May 2015), and his work also featured prominently in ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (October 2014 – January 2015). Uecker was recently awarded the State Prize of North Rhine Westphalia for his life’s work.
Korean painter Chung Sang-Hwa, whose Untitled 83-12-15 (1983) is included in Dominique Lévy Gallery’s booth, also sustained a career-long investigation into the monochrome format. Chung moved to Paris in the 1960s to study Western art and settled in Japan in the 1970s. During that time, he became associated with the Korean Tansaekhwa movement, which incorporated the notion of spiritual and aesthetic ‘oneness’ through the use of the monochrome (Tansaekhwa literally translates as ‘one colour’). During the 1970s, Chung developed his ‘rip and fill’ technique, a repetitive, detailed, and deeply meditative process by which the canvas is covered in kaolin clay, scored with a grid, and individual squares are removed. The artist then fills the exposed areas in acrylic, often with several layers of paint. Chung has continued to employ this highly disciplined artistic method for over forty years, creating a sustained body of work reflecting on the notions of temporality and universality. Also included in the booth will be Lee Ufan, another prominent member of the Tansaekhwa school, whose work focuses on the subtleties of and variations between negative and positive space, exemplified in the work on view, From Line (1979).
Enrico Castellani will also be represented in the gallery’s booth with Superficie argento (2008), one of the artist’s iconic monochrome shaped canvases. Comprising geometric patterns of protrusions and depressions created by a framework of nails, Castellani’s Superfici (Surfaces) explore and manipulate the movement of light across the canvas and evoke the infinite. Although Castellani has stressed the importance of the colour silver in his oeuvre, he has created few works in this hue. In the late 1950s, Castellani co-founded the gallery Azimut and related journal Azimuth with Piero Manzoni, and also formed part of the ZERO network with Klein and Uecker among other artists. Concurrent with Art Basel Hong Kong, Dominique Lévy Gallery will present the first solo exhibition by the artist in London (February – April 2016). Castellani is the first Italian artist to win the Praemium Imperiale awarded by the Emperor of Japan.
Another highlight of the booth is Pierre Soulages’ Peinture 202 x 143 cm, 14 aout 2015. As a young artist in the 1950s, Soulages was close with Zao Wou-Ki, who had just moved from China to Paris. Together they travelled to the United States and to Asia, where Soulages was struck by the grace of traditional calligraphy. From his early paintings composed of black bars on a light ground, Soulages has continued to explore the effect of thick, gestural black paint on its surrounding light. Dominique Lévy held an exhibition of Soulages’ recent work from April to June 2014, which coincided with the opening of the Musée Soulages in Rodez, France. In 2001, Soulages became the first living artist to have an exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris held a retrospective of the artist’s work from October 2009 to March 2010.
Frank Stella, who was recently the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, similarly attempts to pare painting down to its essentials, instigating an exploration of the canvas as an object. Stella is represented in the booth with Study for Princess of Wales Theater, Toronto, III (1992). This monumental work, created through computer technology, depicts a mural design for the Canadian theatre. A trailblazer for Minimalism in the late 1950s, Stella’s career is marked by constant innovation, and the 1990s were a period of increased productivity which saw the artist take on numerous large-scale commissions. An exhibition of Stella’s recent sculpture was on view at Leeahn Gallery in Seoul from November 2015 until January 2016.
Kazuo Shiraga’s vivid foot painting No. 37 (T45) (1962) will also be on display in Dominique Lévy’s booth. Shiraga was a prominent member of Gutai, the Japanese avant-garde collective whose leader, Jiro Yoshihara, encouraged his followers to ‘make something that never existed’ through performative, material-driven work. Shiraga captured the attention of European critics and scholars through the group’s internationally distributed eponymous journal, and his first ever solo exhibition was in fact held not in his native Japan but at Galerie Stadler, Paris, in 1962. From January to April 2015, Dominique Lévy New York held an exhibition of Shiraga’s paintings juxtaposed with ceramic sculptures by Satoru Hoshino (Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino), and accompanying this exhibition, published a large-scale monograph on Shiraga.