1. Ad Reinhardt: Untitled, circa 1965, Silk print on Plexiglas
2. Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Untitled (The End), 1990, offset prints on paper
3. Eva Schlegel: Untitled (detail), 1989/99, Silk screen on lead and graphite on plaster, mounted on wood
As soon as I entered the exhibition space, Ad Reinhardt’s minimal work caught my attention.
The appearance of the work is simple. Black Plexiglas with mat around it and off-white, cream-colored frame. The size of the black Plexiglas is about a letter sized paper which is 9x11” and it is surrounded with an off-white mat. The Plexiglas is centered but slightly close to the top part. Top part of the mat is a little bit shorter than the bottom part, and left and right side of the mat is a same size. At a glance, it looks like a black painting or black paper from afar. However, when you come close to the piece, you get to see the detail of the surface of the subject matter and find out it’s not either painting or paper. The material is something reflective and shiny. It is a silkscreen printed on a Plexiglas. So it has a surface that reflects a light source (in this case, the lights in the exhibition space), which shows lines on the surface of a Plexiglas. That’s the detail one can pass by if you don’t pay attention close enough. However, it is something that changes many things you might be thinking of about the piece before you notice this. A lot of times, meaning means a lot more than its appearance. What you see is not everything and you shouldn’t get confused just by looking at its appearance. You never know what you see truly unless you don’t know the meaning and the inside of the thing you see. Inside is what matters more than outside. Just by looking at an empty black piece (especially when the title is untitled like this piece) without any statement of intention, the interpretation is up to each individual. When I come across any solid black surface of something as an art piece, it is easy to relate them with universe or everything/nothing just because it is only black but this piece makes me think a lot about distance, relationship, changes and time. They are all compressed in a simple form expressing deeper meaning through its ability to attract viewers to come close to the piece itself and surprise them. In this piece, color except the colors in this piece don’t really matter and that’s why the artist used only limited color.
The next piece I chose is the stack of papers in the second room by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. One of my all time favorite artists! I was so excited about his piece because I love the fact that I can take a sheet of his piece (again!) and also that I can collect his piece whenever I see his piece around the world. I like the fact that I can own his piece and participate. Anyways, so I entered the second room and saw the stacks of papers that had white with black frame around the edge. It was white and blank except the frame. It is blank paper with black frame on a paper. So the stack was sitting right on the floor as always and you can take a sheet of it. The gray smooth floor goes along with the piece in terms of color and as a background of the sculpture/prints. Since it is blank and because of its size (which is not too small or too big), I immediately thought I can pin this piece on the wall in my place. The sheet is about 22x28”. I thought maybe I could write something in the white area. But I changed my mind because I don’t want to ruin the piece itself, how it looked like at first. But this is what I am trying to say. Because of its format, composition, limited use of color and the fact that you can take a sheet of it, you can create your own world in the piece. You can put something in the white space and that means you are putting your idea on his piece which means his piece actually inspired you to think of whatever you thought of/planned to put in the white space. Since there’s a frame, you immediately think of something. You might be thinking of some images or ideas. The frame and the blank make you want to fill the space with something. The appearance is same at first to everyone before they see it and take it in their hands. But in the end after all, every sheet of blank paper has different meaning to each individual. It makes me think of people, thoughts, understanding, interaction, and the fact how many people there are in the world and how different each individual is but at the same time, how same all the people are. OH! And the title of this piece is Untitled (The End) which makes sense somehow with the appearance of the stack because people take it and there must be an end in everything and what the sheets contain visually: the blank.
The last piece I chose is a little different visually in terms of subject matter than the two pieces I chose above. This piece actually has an image that you can say- “Oh! It’s a negative picture of a girl!” It is hung on the white wall and it is pretty big. Not too big but somewhere around forty something inches by sixty something inches vertically. It is a silkscreen print (black) on lead and graphite on plaster that’s mounted on wood. From a side view, you can see the different layers. On the lead surface, you see a girl sitting on some structure made of wood bars(?). It has two long woods horizontally and one vertical wood on the left end of the horizontal woods. It seems like a swing at a glance but it actually looks like a swing structure made of woods without chains and seats. A girl is sitting on a wood and holding another wood with her arms stretched to top. The space looks like a garden or backyard of a house. There’s a tree next to the structure. It seems like she is smiling. Beside the photography, the surface of the screen print was interesting because you can actually see black little dots that make the image. It feels like you are looking at a photo on a newspaper even though I’m not sure if images on newspaper are consisting of dots. (Newspapers must be using offset printing…) It has nothing so much showing about the photography but I assume the materials that are used (plaster, lead and wood) are the materials that are in the photograph itself. Wood bar structure, plaster and lead somewhere in that space in the photography. I guess the use and choice of material tell a lot of its negative photo that we actually try to interact with at first on the surface.
I didn’t intend this but after choosing those works, I realized they all are titled Untitled. It was funny and they also all are printed images. Silkscreen, Offset, and then Silkscreen again. The show was interesting to see because it had many different kinds of art works that were all under the same theme of black and white the color itself, they connected to each other somehow at least in a color wise, they were under the same category, and the idea of using only black or white, or just black and white feels the intention of artists’ very particular and specific.