Robert Kushner: Wildflower Convocation
February 3 – March 12, 2011
DC Moore Gallery is pleased to present Robert Kushner: Wildflower Convocation, the inaugural exhibition at the gallery’s new location, 535 West 22nd Street. The exhibition comprises nine recent paintings and the installation Scriptorium, which consists of hundreds of drawings of flowers, leaves, and plants on antique book pages that date from c. 1500 to 1920.
Scriptorium: Devout Exercises of the Heart juxtaposes the astonishing diversity and creativity of world culture with the profusion and beauty of the natural world. Kushner painted on pages from discarded books that cross centuries and cultures, such as a collection of French Christmas poems, 19th century Spanish algebra lessons, a Tsarist treatise, handwritten letters, and a volume of Japanese Noh plays. The typography and content of these book fragments are enlivened through dialogue with each other and Kushner’s painting: “I would like to think that these superimposed flowers bring the pages back to life, make us wonder who owned and read these books, and through their foxing, notations and even burned areas allow us to ponder their varied histories.”
The title of the installation references the room in a medieval monastery where books were copied by hand. Devout Exercises of the Heart is the name of one of the found pages that the artist used and is also a metaphor for his sustained activity on the project.
This is the first time that the installation will be shown in New York. The piece recently returned from Odense, Denmark, where it was exhibited at the Brandts Museum. A review from Denmark’s Weekendavisen reads: “In Kushner’s work hundreds of years of testimony and recognition of flowers grow across the typography, the letters and the Babylonian confusion of world languages…. It is well thought out, well seen, and beautifully done, yes even moving, to witness how language literally is flowering in Kushner’s scriptorium. Language is being touched, we are being touched." Scriptorium was also shown at The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin from February to April of 2010.
In 2010, Kushner returned to painting on canvas after a year of working solely on Scriptorium. The new paintings extend Kushner’s ongoing engagement with the tension between the opulent and the austere and the natural and the geometric, pursued through the improvisational use of pure paint and occasional inclusion of metallic leaf. The new paintings present the unruly abundance of wildflowers with their long stalks and prickly leaves on distressed, expansive backgrounds. The variety of flowers in each painting changes as the seasons pass, a progression Kushner tracks by titling the works by month.
Romare Bearden: Idea to Realization will be on view concurrently. The exhibition will feature a rare and vibrant group of collages, original artworks that were created as maquettes for a wide range of projects, from book jackets to large-scale murals and mosaics.
Upcoming exhibitions will focus on Mary Frank’s early wooden sculpture, David Driskell’s new work, and recent paintings by both Janet Fish and Barbara Takenaga. We will also present overviews of the work of Roger Brown and Robert De Niro, Sr.