Regen Projects have announced another compelling exhibition with new work by Los Angeles based artist Walead Beshty set to make a strong impression. This exhibition, the artist’s first solo show at the gallery, will present new works that reflect the artist’s continued exploration into and rewriting of the historical, conceptual, and formal tenets of the photographic medium. Beshty’s large-scale “Black Curl” photograms are seductive and elusive works that refer to both the analog beginnings of photography and mine the gaps in the medium’s historical narrative. Created in the darkroom through a fixed set of predetermined constraints, these works explore the materiality of photography through chance operations that result in fields of color produced from the interaction between the abstract color system that governs the process of photographic printing, and the base physicality of photographic paper. Each piece in the “Selected Works” series is a hybrid photograph, sculpture, and painting, comprised of works the artist decided were unfit for exhibition. Subsequently shredded and mulched, these works were reconstituted into a mass and framed. The “Copper Surrogates” are polished copper tabletops that replaced existing gallery workspaces during the course of an exhibition and are subsequently displayed on the wall or as freestanding sculptures. These highly reflective copper fields take the aesthetics of the pre-existing gallery infrastructure as a readymade parameter, and bear the tarnishes, smudges, and other signs of use that occurred in the daily activities that support and manage the movements of works of art. The “Make-Ready” works were produced during the printing of the catalogues Walead Beshty Selected Correspondences 2001-2010 (2010) and Walead Beshty:Natural Histories (2011). Created from traditionally discarded pages used as color and placement tests in the book printing process, these works are presented as both individual wall-based works and unique bound books. Drawing upon appropriation, chance juxtapositions, and the distributive mechanisms of art, these works, like the others in the exhibition, intertwine their production and reception through the interplay of form, color, and image via deceptively simple and conceptually rich means.
Walead Beshty’s work draws upon, subverts, and redefines traditional artistic categories to create an artistic practice built upon material qualities of the aesthetic object and its often contradictory uses. His work externalizes the background production process that is often meant to remain unseen and unspoken. The physical traces of the infrastructure used in the artistic production (light, airports, FedEx, use by others), how these manifest themselves, and the conditions under which the works are viewed, are all of central importance to Beshty’s practice. Beshty’s work disrupts conventions, blurs boundaries, moves beyond the traditional confines of medium, and redefines commonly accepted meanings.
“This distance Beshty takes from both the idea of abstraction and the medium of photography as a defined field is a foil to recent curatorial attempts to do for photography what the mid-century formalism of Greenberg did for painting: abstraction as a means for exhibiting and confirming the essential properties of the medium. Photography as it is deployed in Beshty’spractice is instead one operation among others in what we can almost call the political economy of art, a strategic field composed of logics and vectors of production, distribution, circulation and consumption, but also with the delicate questions of class and taste – all seen not as contingencies to be pragmatically dealt with in the margins, but as the basic parameters of an expanded field of artistic activity to be taken up and worked through, out and on.”
(Jason E. Smith, “Securities and Exchanges” in Walead Beshty Selected Correspondences 2001-2010, published by Damiani, Bologna, 2010, p. 13)
“Contemporary social space, perceived through Walead Beshty’s work, could therefore be described as a kampfplatz [battleground] where man grapples with a mechanical/administrative control device, a battleground where things and beings fight for domination or to attain it…In summation: Walead Beshty’s works clearly state that they have moved, that they have been subjected to the laws that regulate the movement of objects and also people. They are produced within the framework of specific situations that are meticulously catalogued, in which the activity of an individual combines with one or more systems that channel this activity…It is, in any case, in this sense that one can interpret the following statement: “The question most urgent for photography is no longer what inherent meaning it may contain…but how specific photographs construct and organize social space in a concrete and immediate way.”
(Nicolas Bourriaud, “Walead Beshty and Prosopopoeia” in Walead Beshty: Natural Histories, published by JRP|Ringier, Zurich, 2011, p. 150)
Walead Beshty “Ett Diagram av Krafter” is currently on view at the Malmo Konsthall through May 1, 2011. The exhibition travels to the CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Walead Beshty’swork has been the subject of several exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. Solo exhibitions include the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Michigan; Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles; and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York.
Regen Projects II / 9016 Santa Monica Boulevard / Los Angeles / CA 90069