David Zwirner is pleased to present new sculptures by American artist Carol Bove (b. 1971) at the gallery's Hong Kong location. Spanning two floors, this exhibition marks the New York-based artist's fourth solo presentation with the gallery and her first in Asia. The exhibition follows her participation in this year's Venice Biennale, which featured a focused selection of recent work, and a two-person exhibition currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Known for works that incorporate found and constructed elements with a unique formal, technical, and conceptual inventiveness, Bove stands as one of the foremost contemporary artists working today; her work has consistently challenged and expanded the possibilities of formal abstraction. As Johanna Burton notes in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, 'The artist mines the expressive potential of materials and encourages different narrative events to emerge...Her works carry historical references and the history of the material themselves, yet her output is arrestingly singular.'1
For this exhibition, Bove expands upon her ongoing series of 'collage sculptures,' compositions of various types of steel, begun in 2016. These works are characterised by square steel tubing that has been crushed and manipulated, painted in vibrant colour, and variously combined with found pieces of scrap metal and, often, a smooth, highly polished steel disk. Playing with surface texture and pushing the limits of steel's physicality, the artist's new work continues her exploration of form and process, including folding and crushing steel into more complex compositions and rendering the material with an almost fabric- or clay-like, supple finish.
Bove applies similar manipulations in her use of colour to engage perception, experimenting with its illusory effects and possibilities. As the artist states, '[My] intention is to approximate a palette that would make sense in a digital context, on a screen. At the same time, I choose colours that remind me of outdated print technology, and I play with combining colours that interfere with one another in the same way colour-separation printing can fail and cause frictions between areas of applied colour.'2 In addition, the artist's evocative palette holds astrological, cosmological, and art-historical references. For example, a saturated, vibrant orange-red in the French Symbolist Odilon Redon's painting Flowers in Green Vase with Handles (1905) is one point of reference for the colouring of Bove's VY Canis Majoris (2019), named after a luminous, red hypergiant star in the Milky Way.
In the installation, Bove directs viewers to reconsider space and their relationship to the works on view. Each floor is a distinct perceptual environment, creating an interplay between two formal modes of display. Bove uses an open layout with natural light in the fifth-floor space, which includes varied, vibrantly colourful works on pedestals of different heights, creating shifting visual relationships among them. The sixth floor acts as a more controlled environment and features two discrete spaces. In one room, a large-scale sculpture, Offenbach Barcarolle (2019), the title of which refers to a popular melody from Jacques Offenbach's final opera, The Tales of Hoffmann (1851), is presented. The other space is characterised by large, geometric forms which evoke the Platonic solids (the three-dimensional, symmetrical forms that figure in ancient Greek mathematics and philosophy through 16th-century astronomy and beyond). In Bove's installation, these forms function as pedestals that support and surround The Moon and the Yew Tree (2019), a horizontally oriented work painted in subtly gradated, saturated yellows and whose title is borrowed from Sylvia Plath's eponymous poem of 1961. In her evocation of the Platonic solids, Bove references the work of British sculptor Helen Chadwick; the appropriated forms are painted with a uniform flat grey paint, and the same grey is applied to every surface of the sixth-floor gallery, aside from the sculptures themselves.
On experiencing Bove's work, art historian Andrew Witt notes, 'Bove's objects cannot be encountered all at once, instantaneously, but rather in duration and movement–an encounter premised on contingency, displacement, and instability. This type of encounter encourages intuition, non-cognitive thinking, and other forms of sense perception not determined by instrumental logic or reason. In this mode, the object's affective tangle of forms transforms into a knot that cannot be unbound.'3
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by David Zwirner Books, featuring an interview with the artist by art historian Johanna Burton.
Born in 1971 in Geneva, Carol Bove was raised in Berkeley, California, and studied at New York University. The artist's first major museum presentation was held at Kunstverein, Hamburg, in 2003. Venues that have hosted significant solo exhibitions include The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2004); Kunsthalle Zürich (2004); Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin (2006); Tate St Ives, England (2009); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2010); The Common Guild, Glasgow (2013); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013). In 2014, The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, with Museion, Bolzano, Italy, and Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium, organised an exhibition with Carol Bove and Carlo Scarpa. Major group exhibitions featuring the artist's work include documenta 13, Kassel (2012); the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); and the 58th Venice Biennale (2019). Additionally, Bove's work is currently on view alongside John Chamberlain's in a two-person presentation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through the summer of 2020.
Bove's large-scale sculptures are often exhibited outdoors and in public spaces. In 2013, the artist created a series of sculptures for the High Line in New York, and her sculpture Lingam (2015) was installed in City Hall Park in New York as part of a 2016 group exhibition organised by the Public Art Fund. In 2017, the artist's sculptures were installed in the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria, The Contemporary Austin. Bove debuted her largest sculpture to date at the 2018 edition of Unlimited at Art Basel.
Work by the artist is represented in permanent collections worldwide, including the Fonds régional d'art contemporain (FRAC) Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkirk; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
1 Johanna Burton, introduction to 'Dimensions: Carol Bove in Conversation with Johanna Burton' in Ten Hours. Exh. cat. (New York: David Zwirner Books, 2019), p. 41.2
2 Carol Bove, in ibid., p. 45.
3 Andrew Witt, 'Carol Bove.' May You Live In Interesting Times (La Biennale di Venezia, 2019), p. 220.
Press release courtesy David Zwirner.