Rudolf Stingel

04 Mar - 16 Apr 2011

Installation view
4 March - 16 April, 2011

Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition by Rudolf Stingel, curated by Francesco Bonami.

For more than two decades Stingel has been expanding the definition of painting and commenting on the character of memory. In the early 1990s he started his inquiry into the relationship between painting and space by developing a series of installations that covered the walls and floors of exhibition spaces with monochrome or black and white carpets, transforming the architecture into a painting. In other installations, he covered the walls with silver metallic Celotex insulation board and invited visitors to mark them as they wished. Gradually covered in all manner of compulsive graffiti, the panels became human and chance-induced autonomous works. Moving from abstraction into self-reflection, Stingel created his first self-portraits (2005-2006), executed in a gray-scale palette to match black and white photos. He depicted himself in a melancholy state, a mid-life crisis, and once as a much younger man dressed in an army uniform.

In the current exhibition, he works again from a photograph of himself as a young man, fresh-faced, wearing a casual v-neck sweater. The first room presents three photo-realistic gray-scale paintings of this image, all virtually identical. Here, Stingel points to the repetition and meditation involved in nostalgic remembering, as well as the limited and nuanced access to the past that an image can offer to the present.

Following on from the portraits is a new series of carpet paintings where the pattern is ghostly and subtly rendered in silver paint. Carpets have consistently played a major role in Stingel’s work; like his Celotex installations, they serve as repositories for the tracks of daily existence. However, unlike the Celotex, inscriptions on carpet can be easily erased, providing an ever-renewable space of interaction. But presented on the wall in a metallic relief, they become frozen in an ultimate and sublime form of decadent decoration.

The next room opens up to a series of large gold canvases. Whereas the silver carpet paintings look like fading delicate images, the gold canvases with their stains, shadows, imprints, and scratches bring back the aggressiveness of Stingel’s working process in the studio. These inadvertent paintings, elevated from floor to wall, invite extended contemplation, evoking comparisons with Robert Rauschenberg’s performative white paintings, the active canvases of Jackson Pollock, the chance experiments of John Cage, and Andy Warhol’s shadow paintings.

The exhibition ends with yet another self-portrait. It marks the first time that Stingel has used color in his portraits. The painting is installed alone, like the awakening from a story dreamt in black and white.

Rudolf Stingel was born in 1956 in Merano, Italy. Recent solo exhibitions include his mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2007 (traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and “LIVE” at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2010). His work has been included in numerous group shows including “Day for Night: Whitney Biennial”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); “Life on Mars, 55th Carnegie International”, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA (2008) and “Mapping the Studio: Artists from the François Pinault Collection”, Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2009).

Stingel lives and works in New York and Italy.

Tags: John Cage, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Rudolf Stingel, Andy Warhol