The 8th in our series of 26 exhibition pairings presented a new graphite drawing and sculptural relief by Richard Forster alongside two specifically chosen works: an etching and a wall sculpture by Richard Artschwager.
Social, cultural and art historical concerns inform Richard Forster's work, and whilst impressively consistent, it adopts such different guises that on first encountering it one could be forgiven for taking the opposite view. Painstakingly detailed, almost photo-real pencil drawings made from snapshots, or pages torn from magazines that have particular resonance for him, co-exist with sculptural objects and installations which have been manufactured in glossy, artificially coloured and functional materials. Rather than seeing these drawings and objects as separate entities from different spheres, Forster uses each to inform the other, developing a new perspective on the challenge of appearance and reality. He enjoys materials and delights in using them to question our understanding of what we are looking at, and so questions both the thing itself and the image of the thing.
Forster often works in response to a specific site or exhibition and with this installation he intended that the gallery - a space he describes as ordinarily "a quiet room for contemplation" - will have "a shot of New York running through it, if only for a week". Having made his very first foray to the USA in April, he returned with a photograph of Times Square which he subsequently used to make a graphite drawing of quite astonishing detail. Set in relation to this and the gallery architecture was one of Richard Artschwager's iconic wall sculptures, a giant exclamation point made from rubberised horsehair. This grammatical signifier of urgency, force, excitement or aggression conveys what language alone cannot always quite express. Placed with Forster's image, it amplified the silent clamour of New York's towering, overcrowded billboards which dwarf the teeming mass of human traffic below.
Richard Artschwager was born in Washington DC in 1923 and lives and works in Hudson, New York. He is one of the most respected artists of his generation and in recent years has held major solo exhibitions at Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art (2004) Guggenheim, Berlin (2003) and Serpentine Gallery, London (2001). His work is held in important museum collections worldwide.