HONG KONG – David Zwirner is set to present work by American artist Sherrie Levine at the gallery’s Hong Kong location. The exhibition will showcase several bodies of work that are central to Levine’s practice, and that distinctly engage the artist’s ongoing inquiry into notions of authorship, originality, and authenticity.
Levine rose to prominence as a member of the Pictures Generation, a group of artists based in New York in the late 1970s and 1980s whose work examined the structures of signification underlying mass-circulated images, and, in many cases, directly appropriated these images in order to imbue them with new, critically inflected meaning. Since then, Levine has created a singular and complex body of work in a variety of media that often explicitly reproduces artworks and motifs from the Western art-historical canon as well as non-Western cultures.
On view for the first time will be Hong Kong Dominoes: 1–12 (2017), a suite of twelve paintings on mahogany that replicate the surface of a group of dominoes that Levine purchased on a trip to Hong Kong in 2012. In the mid-1980s, the artist began painting “generic abstractions”—composed of stripes, checks, or chevrons—by applying paint on wood; these works are evocative of minimalist painting and sculpture from the 1960s and 1970s as well as the surfaces of game boards such as chess or backgammon. Here, she extends the logic of this seminal body of work by playing on the object quality of the original dominoes.
A number of works in the exhibition make reference to modernist masterworks, questioning the stereotypical construct of the heroic male artist. In a group of twenty-two never-before-seen After Henri Matisse drawings from 1985 from the artist’s own collection, Levine re-presents a sequence of floating, masklike faces in Matisse’s characteristic style. Likewise, in Monochromes After Renoir Nudes (2016), Levine has created abstract restatements of twenty of the impressionist painter’s celebrated nudes, making use of pixelation to consolidate the range of tones in each painting into a single, truly monochromatic value. These works revisit a technique first employed by Levine in her 1989 group of woodcut prints Meltdown, in which an averaging algorithm was used to create a checkerboard composition based on modernist artists’ iconic paintings.
After Feininger: 1–11 (2021) makes use of the work of Bauhaus-trained photographer Andreas Feininger (1906–1999)—son of painter Lyonel Feininger—and relates to Levine’s ongoing practice of photographing reproductions of artworks, begun in the early 1980s. Though most known as a LIFE magazine photographer, Feininger was employed by the American Office of War Information, created as a part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, and traveled across the United States in 1942 documenting wartime industries. Here, a series of vividly colored images depict mining and construction efforts set against vast and unassuming landscapes.
Brazilian Ex Voto Figure: 1 (2019) is part of an ongoing group of sculptures cast from wooden originals once used for ritualistic purposes. By appropriating an object from outside the Western art-historical canon, Levine indirectly references one of the primary influences of modernist artists in the early twentieth century, who were drawn to so-called exotic art for its formal, aesthetic qualities. Her choice of bronze reinforces the contrasting function that her copies embody vis-à-vis the originals, which are effectively transformed from artifacts to works of art. It is presented alongside the cast-bronze sculpture Hobby Horse (2014), a literal translation of the French “Dada,” in which Levine wryly conflates this lay meaning with the iconic art movement.
This will be the artist’s fourth solo exhibition with David Zwirner, and her first at the gallery’s Hong Kong location. On the occasion of the exhibition, a new publication on the artist’s work is forthcoming from David Zwirner Books and will be available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions.
Hong Kong Dominoes runs from 4th September to 13th October 2021 at David Zwirner Hong Kong, 5–6/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central
Hong Kong. More information available here