Perrotin Paris is pleased to host a new exhibition of works by American artist John Henderson, his sixth solo exhibition for this gallery and the second in Paris. Henderson continues to interrogate the practice of painting, performing the role of the Painter while approaching concerns about artistic production that extend beyond medium specificity.
While the process of casting is often considered in relation to permanence—as the final move, which fixes an expression into place—Henderson's exhibition utilises the cast object as a point of departure. Casts of paintings (realised in metal, plaster, and epoxy) are alternately repainted, cut apart and reassembled with divergent materials. An oscillation between resemblance and difference plays out across the gallery's four rooms as the surface's of individual paintings appear more than once, reproduced and altered in multiple locations.
By returning to and revising seemingly terminal objects, the artist proposes an analogy between casting and photography, considering their shared engagement with indexicality, seriality, cropping and omission.
by T. K. Roach, New York, 2021
I run at night. This habit started with the pandemic. It was a reason to go outside and I began departing later and later to avoid other people. Early on I ran with a mask—condensation dripping from the valve onto my chest. It felt like breathing through the pin hole of a lens aperture. I run from my studio down and across the island, into the park and around and around the reservoir then back. A little gravitational slingshot. Every once and a while I have a thought as I loop—with Dede Allen cuts when I blink or drop my heel into an unseen hole. An empty stomach helps. Amphetamines help. Just now I thought about John.
How does electrotyping work? A mold, coated with graphite, is suspended in a charged sulphur bath with blocks of copper. Copper atoms—those little sacred units—split from the blocks and slip through the bath, pulled to the conductive graphite, and accumulate on the mould, thicker and thicker as time passes. I'm a little sacred unit myself, pulled across this buzzing field. The sensation of narrowing down to a plotting point, a pointillist dot, makes me erratic and I break my loop, loping toward the traverse, the idea of bisecting the island from river to river forming in my mind. This narrowing sensation feels like compression, not diminishment. What is that dense, heavy metal? It's heavier than lead. They use it in the tips of Mont Blanc pens.
A lot of boot prints tonight. Slipping, slapping my foam soles on them they feel hard, almost frozen. A banal artificial sheath can be erotic. Rubber seems to be the material of pop transgressive sexuality. Photography is perverse. Black for white, colour negative, everything backward and upside down. A humming lamppost. An electronic flash touches everything. A flash head and an aperture are like stacked orifices. The zone that extends out from one and back into the other is a scintillating, refractory stretch whose mute thingness grinds against some use, subject, restriction, purpose insisted on by the flash. Grinding. They grind up fish for fertilizer. Only the right grind can give you all the fine flavour. He keeps me awake at night, grinding his teeth. Frottage can be a rubbing of a tombstone or grinding your crotch on furniture. If photography is a kind of courtship with the natural world, flash photographs are paraphilia. Casting is similar. Soft wax or silicone for hard aluminium or brass or resin, positive for negative, in for out, in and out. Every human orifice is a vent or a sprue. Some are both.
The helicopter crash in the East River. It dropped, hull spinning too, into the water. The weight of the rotors turned it upside-down and the tide dragged it 50 blocks south. I'm running now across that latitude, toward where that bird struck, powerless jet glided down the centre of the Hudson and hit the water in midtown a decade or more ago. The ebb tide pulled it south too. It ended up tied against a sea wall in Battery Park, just a wing and tail stabilizer of the Airbus above the water. US Airways gave each passenger 5,000 dollars and the Department of Agriculture killed 1,235 geese. These 'rivers' aren't rivers. Fresh mixes with sea water and they flood and ebb. They only seem to ceaselessly flow south. Maybe you confuse your movement for their flow. Like closely watching the train next to yours, one slowly moving.
What did Kate say about John? The present is plural in his work. Yes. There's so much replication, remixing, looping. So many steps, states, iterations, divisions. His works are finely meshed perceptual nets that sieve his active presence. This presence—marks, cuts, impressions, combinations—are adrift in time but accumulate into hellaciously solid planes. Heavier than lead. What was that lecture that Yves-Alain Bois gave at the IAS years ago? You listened to the recording over and over. Now you just remember the delicious sound of mineral water conspicuously poured halfway through. It was a history of quixotic attempts to eradicate subjectivity in art, to erase composition, personal taste, evenmeaning. Seurat to INKhUK to Morellet to Stella. I think this is John's group.
The American Museum of Natural History. Dad painted cast fish in Ocean Hall. A Treefish, a Sheephead, a Scorpionfish. If you were a different kind of writer you would mirror John's process in this text. You would describe in detail the sensation of each footfall, each rush of wind, each delicate change in the quality of light, each halation and drifting aberration dislodged behind your pupils, all while seamlessly mixing the time of day, season, city. You'd depart at night and circle midday, run one loop in August and another in April, into Central Park and out of Hyde, slipping back and forth between present and past.
T. K. Roach is an artist and writer in New York. He writes about his circle and his work. He published a prologue for Justin Caguiat's Doll at Taka Ishii Gallery in March. He will publish an essay on N. Dash, K.R.M. Mooney, B. Ingrid Olson, and Carrie Yamaoka in September. He is working on an anthology of short essays on photography written during the pandemic.
John Henderson (b. 1984) lives and works in Chicago. He has had solo exhibitions at Peep-Hole, Milan; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. His work has been included in group exhibitions such as Per_/forming a collection, Museo MADRE, Naples, Italy;_ Anamericana_, American Academy in Rome;_ Expanded Painting_, Prague Biennale 6; and_ Phantom Limb: Approaches to Painting Today_, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Henderson's work is featured in the collections of Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Museo Madre, Naples; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Press release courtesy Perrotin.