Cheim & Read is pleased to present Ron Gorchov: Watercolors 1968 – 1980, an exhibition of intimate, revelatory works by one of the most influential painters of the past half-century. The show will open on 29 September at the gallery's Upper East Side location, 23 East 67th Street, and run through 14 January. This is the artist's fifth solo exhibition with the gallery.
These works, which have never been exhibited before, correspond to the development of Gorchov's signature 'shield' and 'saddle' canvases, the series of paintings on curved surfaces that he began in 1966. In many ways, they offer a privileged insight into the oil paintings displayed in Ron Gorchov: At the Cusp Of the 80s, the 2019 exhibition at Cheim & Read, which covered roughly the same period.
By virtue of their scale and their medium, Gorchov's watercolours underscore the artist's inherent lyricism and the depth of his coloristic brilliance. Many feature paired shapes residing on either side of the page, reflecting the elegant compositional balance that the artist often explored in his curved canvases. Others are related to his sculptural 'Stack' paintings, in which monochromatic convex canvases rise in totem-like configurations from the floor. Several of these images appear to refer to a proposed public art project from the early 1970s, in which narrow stacks of paintings act as pillars supporting billboard-size panels.
The watercolours presented here offer a compact overview of the artist's formal concerns and varieties of expression — from a simple juxtaposition of pink and green planes to multicolour architectonic structures, and from twinned floating forms to raw slashes, smears, and drips. Their freewheeling emotional range and openness to accident offer a striking contrast to the material austerity and at times doctrinal strictures of Minimalism, which was then dominating the critical conversation. Even the most spare and elemental piece in the exhibition, a linear pencil drawing from 1973, feels warm, loose, and buoyant.
Ron Gorchov (Chicago, 1930–New York, 2020) studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago before earning his B.F.A. at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1951. His first solo exhibition was held in 1960 at Tibor de Nagy Gallery. His work was selected by the Whitney Museum for its survey exhibition, Young America 1960: Thirty American Painters Under Thirty-Six, and for two of its biennials, in 1975 and 1977. Over the following decades, his work has been included in multiple museum exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, and elsewhere.
Solo exhibitions of the artist's work have been held at Cheim & Read, New York (2021, 2019, 2017, and 2012); Modern Art, London (2019); Maruani Mercier, Brussels (2019); Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (2018); Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz (2016); Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2014); Centro Atlántico de Arte Modern, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2011); and MoMA PS1, New York (2006).
His paintings are held by major museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.
Press release courtesy Cheim & Read.