Yvon Lambert

Joseph Havel

23 Nov - 23 Dec 2010

© Joseph Havel
A Void, 2009
cut up book
2 x 8 x 10 in (5.1 x 20.3 x 25.4 cm)
23 November – 23 December, 2010

Yvon Lambert New York is pleased to announce Joseph Havel’s first exhibition at the gallery. This show will feature seven fabric label works and one sculpture by the artist. The exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on November 23 from 6-8pm and will be on view until December 23, 2010.
Havel uses commonplace items throughout his practice, working with materials such as bed sheets, flags and books. Physically and conceptually manipulating the objects to erase their original context and function, Havel produces works that reveal new meanings in their altered form. Heavily influenced by art history and literary sources, the artist considers whether or not the viewer’s original associations with the items still exist after the object has undergone visual changes.
Havel uses white dress shirts to address social, economical and historical issues in his work. In particular, for the artist, the shirts represent the constraints of the middle class man. In a work from 1996, Havel sculpted a pair of dress shirts in bronze, the metallic surface beautifully mimicking the fluidity of the fabric. More recently, he uses only the shirt labels, creating a subtle reference to these ideas by using the shirts as medium rather than as subject. Havel often integrates text into the labels, infusing the fabric with poignant messages.
On display at Yvon Lambert is Seven Variations of nothing, a series of seven monochrome “paintings” constructed of white shirt labels. Each label, embroidered with the word “nothing”, is packed into a plexiglass box that acts as a frame.
Havel photocopied the text from John Berryman’s The Dream Songs, a book that has been a source of inspiration for the artist over the past twenty years. Also on view is A Void, a sculpture made from the book of the same name by George Perec. In this novel, Perec deals with the issues of loss and displacement. Havel selectively cuts away words from the book written by Perec without using the vowel “e” eventually reducing the text to a single word. Both Perec and Havel grapple with the true meaning of a void.
For Perec, this manifests itself in his removal of the letter “e”. Havel further stresses this loss by creating a physical void in the book’s pages. Seven Variations of nothing and A Void demonstrate Havel’s interest in repurposing mundane items to surpass their intended functionality and create aesthetic objects with personaland sociopolitical references.
Joseph Havel (b. Minneapolis, 1954) lives and works in Houston, Texas. His works are featured in prominent public and private collections including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Contemporary Museum of Honolulu and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where he has served as director of the Glassel School of Art MFAH since 1991. He has been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions including the Houston Art League, Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris and the BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, New Castle, United Kingdom. Selected group exhibitions include Deitch Projects, New York, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York, National Museum, Lima, Peru, and Broelmuseum, Belgium.

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