Roni Horn has spent the past four decades questioning accepted notions of identity and meaning, thwarting closure and opening up new possibilities of perception through her expansive body of work across mediums. Beginning 18 February, ‘Roni Horn. Recent Work’ will present the artist’s latest achievements in the realm of drawing, a medium she has described as ‘a kind of breathing activity on a daily level.’
Here, intricate works on paper extend Horn’s masterful use of mirroring and textual play to explore the materiality of color and the sculptural potential of the medium. Her preoccupation with language permeates these works; scattered words read as a stream of consciousness spiraling across the paper. In addition to pieces from her series Wits’ End Mash and Yet, the exhibition will present for the first time LOG (March 22, 2019 – May 17, 2020), (2019 – 2020), a new large-scale installation comprised of more than 400 individual works on paper, the result of a daily ritual of art making undertaken by Horn for a span of fourteen months.
‘Recent Work’ follows the artist’s two-part 2019 drawing survey ‘Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw’ at the Menil Collection in Houston. Her work has been the subject of numerous major exhibitions including ‘Roni Horn’ at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2016); ‘Roni Horn a.k.a Roni Horn,’ organized by the Tate Modern, London, which travelled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2009 – 2010). Roni Horn lives and works in New York.
Drawing has been a defining element of Horn’s artistic practice since the 1980s. With ‘Recent Work,’ she will debut one of her most ambitious works on paper to date, the monumental installation of ‘LOG (March 22, 2019 – May 17, 2020)’ (2019 – 2020). Displayed as a series of over 400 individual sheets of paper, it contains a sequence of casual handwritten notes, observations, facts, quotes, original texts, news, collages, drawings, photographs, and lists created daily over the course of fourteen months. Horn would describe the events of weather, private life, and anything notable that came to mind or hand each day. One page is inscribed with quotations from Emily Dickinson and Mae West, while another features a pasted in photographic self-portrait of the artist above handwritten idioms such as ‘I could cry my eyes out’ and ‘laugh my head off’.
In the artist’s Wits’ End Mash series, Horn’s use of image and language as subject matter acquires new potency. For these large-scale drawings, Horn has individually silkscreened approximately 300 handwritten sayings to overlap en masse on single sheets. Arcane phrases and common aphorisms – ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ ‘happy as a clam,’ ‘Elvis has left the building’ – collide in up to 50 colors, their legibility obfuscated in ways that reveal the mutability of their meanings. To source these phrases, Horn surveyed acquaintances and strangers to assemble a catalogue of clichés and idioms.
‘Recent Work’ also spotlight’s Horn’s Yet series, in which drawings composed with graphite and powdered pigment become ‘plates’ that the artist dissects, splices, and reassembles into final compositions. In such works as ‘Yet 10’ (2017/2020), this process is visible in the way pencil marks, numbers, and words are interspersed between shards of color blocks and Horn’s annotations in the joining of plates within each drawing. Having first undertaken this unique pigment process in the early 1980s, Horn continually redefines the ways in which it can be used to lend physicality and depth to the practice of drawing.