David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in Independent 2020 with a solo presentation by Shahryar Nashat. Independent will be on view at 50 Varick Street, New York from Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8. A private viewing for invited guests will take place on Thursday, March 5 from 11am to 8pm.
Coinciding with the close of his solo exhibition Force Life at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Shahryar Nashat's solo presentation at Independent will feature a group of new works, consisting of video, sculptures, and floor-based objects. While Nashat has long been interested in the multidimensional relationships between the human body, technology, and synthetic materials, autobiography has increasingly become a vehicle by which he explores the changing status of physical objects in the digital age. A primary focus is on the artist's own body as a site through which such changes are particularly manifest, and the ways in which art historical narratives are refracted through the prism of subjective experience.
Personal and impersonal in equal measure, Nashat's work problematises the meanings of vulnerability and mortality as notions of what the body is-and can be-undergo dramatic shifts. This comes through in an ongoing series of wall-based works in which X-ray images of the bodies of his relatives and loved ones are rendered directly on plaster through a UV sublimation process. A material that has defined sculpture-making for centuries, plaster here becomes a substrate that holds a two-dimensional, technologically aided representation of the body's interior. The supporting structure that holds the plaster on the wall incorporates layers of rubber and metal, imbuing the objects with synthetic and prosthetic qualities.
By virtue of its scale, a sculpture entitled Barre (all your automatic reactions) evokes the presence of the body even though it is ostensibly abstract. A long, floor-based object made from clearly synthetic materials, its sinews resemble a muscle in the process of being flexed or stretched. Nashat hypothesises a state of being that is physical without being strictly representational. Whatever body is the work's subject has been evicted from the realm of the strictly human, and exists in a more abstract, CGI-inflected, but nonetheless palpable mode. Unique versions of this sculpture are displayed both at Independent and Force Life at MoMA.
The latest examples of Nashat's polymer wall-based sculptures, from a series titled 'Bone-In', resemble fresh cuts of meat. Three-dimensional pictures of flesh in its rawest form and reminiscent of headless torsos, these works occupy space like beckoning lovers striving for connection. Held within the PVC wrapping that contains each work is a slip of paper inscribed with a pick-up line, so that the sculptures can be said to openly flirt with their viewers, making desirous appeals and fielding rejections alike.
Another group of wall-based works incorporating video is informed by Nashat's burgeoning awareness, as a teenager, of the apparent intimacy between Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg. Earlier examples in the series focused on Twombly; here Rauschenberg's legacy takes centre stage, as does Nashat's. Entitled 'Rob It in Flesh', these works feature stand-ins for an adolescent version of the artist himself. The young people who appear in the videos lie in bed and casually flip through black-and-white Polaroids of bathrooms and toilets, which are in fact remade versions of photographs originally shot by Rauschenberg as source material for the 1963 series 'Random Order'. In structural events that are an analogue for such acts of image-viewing, Nashat occasionally inserts other sets of images-also based on photographs produced by Rauschenberg and depicting abstracted sections of nude bodies-in rapid-fire succession, disrupting the pervading aura of calm.
Over the last two decades, Nashat has developed a recognisable syntax of forms and materials, notable in part for its careful approach to display; in many cases, support structures like pedestals take centre stage, placing the work in dialogue with modernist critiques that sought to erase the boundaries between an art object and its surrounding context. One notable expression of this facet of his project is the 'Mother On Wheels' group of sculptures, one of which will be on view at Independent; each work in this series features a single block of marble, the bottom of which has been finished to make a pedestal, while the top remains an uncarved, unpolished cube. The stone sits in turn on a steel base outfitted with asymmetrical rolling castors-poised to move.
Geneva's (my 1990s), meanwhile, is another unlikely hybrid of minimalist formal investigation and personal reflection. Here, a variety of chips, cuts, and striations mark an otherwise pristine, compact cube whose surfaces have been painted in a range of colours that Nashat associates with the decade to which the title alludes. The object, almost alien in its diffidence, is a paradoxical condensation of memory and self-reflection, art historical synthesis and prospective imagination.
Shahryar Nashat is currently the subject of Force Life, a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on view through March 8, 2020. Other solo exhibitions include shows at SMK—Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (2019); Swiss Institute, New York (2019); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2017); Portikus, Frankfurt (2016); Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2016); Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2015); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014); Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg (2012); and Kunstverein Nürnberg, Nuremberg, Germany (2010). Notable group exhibitions include Stories of Almost Everyone, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Myths of the Marble, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017) and Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway (2017); Moving is in Every Direction: Environments, Installations, Narrative Spaces, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2017); Le Grand Balcon, La Biennale de Montréal (2016); Question the Wall Itself, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2016); Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); and ILLUMInations, 54th Venice Biennale (2011).