Hong Kong-Pace is honoured to present the first exhibition in Asia dedicated to renowned artist Mary Corse. Over the last five decades, Corse's practice has investigated perception, properties of light and ideas of abstraction-all through an innovative approach to the medium of painting, in which light serves as both the subject and object of art. For Corse's first exhibition in Asia, Pace will exhibit a selection of eight new paintings by the artist, which continue her use of glass microspheres and a limited palette of white, black, and red acrylic paint to create simple geometric configurations, giving structure to the luminescent internal space of her works. The exhibition will be on view at Pace's gallery in the H Queen's building 26 March-11 May, 2019, with an opening reception in the presence of the artist on Monday, 25 March, from 6-8 pm.
Corse's paintings embody rather than merely represent light, and explore subjective experience in innovative ways. Her works open themselves up to their environment, refracting light, and invite a perceptual encounter that is grounded in vision and movement. The new paintings on view in this exhibition are a continuation of Corse's White Light paintings, which she began in 1968 and has evolved over the last 50 years. She started to create the paintings after noticing how the white lines on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway lit up when struck by headlights-a phenomenon caused by glass microspheres imbedded in the paint, as well as by her physical movement, with the experience of the highway illumination being tied to her perception of light seen while in motion. Translating this discovery to her own practice, Corse combined tiny glass microspheres with acrylic paint and harnessed the refraction of light, creating the appearance of a radiating light that shifts based on the viewer's position and movement around the painting.
Since this initial discovery, Corse has relentlessly advanced the boundaries of the White Light paintings, introducing primary hues and the colour black within a geometric vocabulary of forms to explore new compositional and perceptual possibilities. The exhibition at Pace includes Corse's latest innovations in this series, featuring white multi- and inner- band paintings in a range of scales and shapes-from an 8' x 8' square to a 6.5' x 10' rectangle-as well as paintings incorporating black and red bands of various widths and configurations.
Coinciding with the show at H Queen's, Pace will exhibit three works from Corse's Black Earth series as part of the Kabinett sector at its booth at Art Basel Hong Kong. The presentation will include works created during the series' origins in 1978, as well as a new work in the series that Corse has made especially for the fair. The Black Earth series evolved from the Black Light series, which Corse began in the 1970s as a continuation of the White Light series. The Black Light works refract light in the same manner as the White Light paintings, but with a black glittering surface. Evoking the depth and appearance of the cosmos, the Black Light series would become, according to Corse, a 'transition between the white light consciousness and the heavy, earth-grounded' Black Earth works that followed.
Captivated by the idea of using the Earth as the grounding for her work itself, Corse began the Black Earth series by overlapping plaster impressions of a large flat rock in the hills near her home in Topanga Canyon, west of Los Angeles. Once the plaster molds were made, they were transferred to clay, then transformed in a kiln into high-fire tiles with a glossy black glaze. The tiles are exhibited in various configurations flipping the natural orientation of the rocks from ground to wall. Significantly for Corse, she considers the Black Earth works paintings—with her actions in laying the plaster over the rocks not unlike that of laying paint down on canvas. Also resonant between the two series is the invitation of the viewers' movement to activate them. With the Black Earth works, one is faced with a glassy, deep black surface that prompts a kinetic response, inviting the viewer to move around the painting to see the varied surface texture and changing reflections. As Corse explains, 'your perception creates the painting and in so doing also creates a unique inner experience for each viewer.'
Press release courtesy Pace Gallery.
Ocula contributor Diana d'Arenberg gives her annual post-mortem of Hong Kong's Art Basel week, running through some of the highs and lows of the fair's seventh edition, which opened to the public from 29 to 31 March 2019.