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Sadie Coles HQ presents David Korty | Uri Aran Two Things About Suffering

Archive | Information & News

1 Sept 2016 to 1 Oct 2016
Tuesday – Saturday 11– 6pm
Sadie Coles HQ
1 Davies Street, W1K 3DB
62 Kingly Street, W1B 5 QN
United Kingdom
T: +44 (0) 20 7493 8611
F: +44 (0) 20 7499 4878

David Korty
01 September – 01 October 2016

Artists in this exhibition: David Korty, Uri Aran

David Korty

Sadie Coles HQ
1 Davies Street
01 September – 01 October 2016

This autumn at Sadie Coles HQ, David Korty presents a group of twelve new paintings. The works mark both a continuation and a dramatic development of Korty’s Blue Shelf series (begun in 2013), in which he depicted objects on tiered ledges against backgrounds of midnight blue. In his latest paintings, words assume the place of objects. The linearity of text, rather than the horizontality of the shelf, becomes a formal and structural device.

Korty has dispensed with the stacked compartments of the Blue Shelf paintings, to present a montage of shapes – rectangular, circular, and bricklike – expanding across a deep blue field. These ‘building blocks’, variously painted and pasted onto the canvas, have been filled with hand-drawn lettering and flushed with rose-pink. In contrast to the orderly arrangements of monochrome objects found in earlier canvases (executed in dilute ink or pen on white paper), the letter-crammed shapes of the new paintings proliferate into dense amalgams, at once architectural and cacophonous. At the same time, the introduction of pink – vibrant yet ethereal against the deep blue – instills the structures with an offbeat sense of levity.

Korty uses text as both content and form. Each canvas is a bricolage of serried writing, occasionally broken by a circular aperture filled with the blue pigment of the background, or a pale area where the pink wash has been stemmed like a sunburn pattern. The words evoke the simple declarative messages of “For Sale” boards, placards, banners, glimpsed headlines and other everyday notices. Assembled into textual mosaics, they resemble the grafted newspaper cuttings of Cubist collages. And yet, rendered in carefully-ruled capitals, the words possess a studied neutrality – their angular forms (flecked by periodic smudges) take precedence over meaning. Words interrupt, judder against and override one another, to suggest multiple overlapping panels. Certain words or individual letters are reversed as if in a mirror image, or flipped by ninety degrees. The writing moves from side to side, and from top to bottom.

Merging image with text, Korty plays upon the concept of ‘movable type’ – the cast metal lettering traditionally used in typesetting – to re-present text as a thicket of cyphers. Typography functions as an abstract design. It moreover amounts to a metaphor for the underlying structure of each painting. As Korty switches between horizontal and vertical lineation – and similarly alternates between ‘front’ and ‘back’ – he traces and accentuates the perpendicular axes and double faces of the canvas itself. The lettering, in its multi-directional arrangement and standardized format, implies a grid – the organising structure of the Shelf paintings, and ultimately of any painting on a rectangular field. In certain works, a repeated and incomplete image – a head rapidly delineated in profile, or a Venetian mask – breaks into the stacked ‘brickwork’ of lettering. The symbol of the mask aptly mirrors the structural and conceptual nuances of Korty’s works, intimating both a façade and an aperture, a proposition and an enigma. David Korty (b. 1971, California) trained at the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of California, Los Angeles. He has exhibited widely throughout the United States and Europe. His recent solo exhibitions include those at Night Gallery, Los Angeles (2015 and 2013); Wallspace, New York (2015) and Sadie Coles HQ, London (2013). Korty’s work has featured in group shows including the Thessaloniki Biennale, Thessaloniki, Greece (2013); Painting Codes: I Codici della Pittura, Galleria Comunale d'Arte Contemporanea di Monfalcone, Italy (2006); and Painting on the Move, Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, and Kunsthalle Basel (2002). The exhibition coincides with a new publication on his previous series of paintings, Blue Shelves, featuring contributions by art historian Suzanne Hudson and painter Laura Owens.

Uri Aran

Two Things About Suffering

Sadie Coles HQ
62 Kingly Street, London W1
01 September – 01 October 2016  

Uri Aran’s first exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ will feature an interrelated group of videos, sculptures and paintings. Throughout these works, Aran probes the concept of genre – whether theatrical or artistic – and its reliance on conventions of structure, gesture and affect. Two Things About Suffering (2016), the video which gives its title to the exhibition, manipulates and magnifies these elements. Two men (one of them the artist’s twin brother – a kind of second self) are seen pacing together in an indistinct walled space, against the strains of an orchestral score. One of the nameless characters speculates on “the conditions in which we are expected to act”. Through the men’s disjointed monologues and actions – alternating between the casual and choreographed – these ‘conditions’ become the dominant subject of the work.

“I wanted the title to sound like a lesson. Maybe these figures are two forms of suffering,” Aran has commented. “They ‘walk the yard.’ They are two fish in a tank. The space is so deep and so high they could be two men inside the belly of a whale.” In other videos, Aran stages similar interactions: the men play out scenes of ‘physical theatre’ ranging from slapstick to mock violence to mimed friendship. Each is dictated by a discrete set of rules. Offsetting precision of action with openness of mood, the videos channel and reformulate pre-existing texts. Their fluid meanings and deceptive simplicity recall genres as eclectic as ancient fable, the absurdist drama of Samuel Beckett, the comedy routines of Laurel and Hardy, or the quizzical art of Marcel Broodthaers (a long-term touchstone for Aran). The very idea of genre – as a recognisable and formulaic mode – is thereby thrown into relief. Presented in diverse formats, from the conventionality of the ‘black box’ to free-standing sculptural structures, the videos will be accompanied by an array of new sculptures and paintings. In these, Aran extends his interest in semantic conventions – using letters, symbols and other representational codes to explore the territory between spontaneity and convention, truth and truism.  

This is Uri Aran’s first solo exhibition in London since an acclaimed presentation at the South London Gallery in 2013. Aran has come to attention over the last decade for his complex, emotive and humorous manipulations of commonplace formulae – whether objects or images, actions or statements. Aran (b. 1977, Jerusalem) lives and works in New York. He graduated from Columbia University in 2007, and has since exhibited internationally, with major solo presentations including Mice, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany (2016); Puddles, Peep-Hole, Milan (2014); Five Minutes Before, South London Gallery (2013); and here, here and here, Kunsthalle Zürich (2013). He has been included in group exhibitions including ‘Question the Wall Itself’, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (MY), USA (2016); Walter Benjamin: Exilic Archive, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2016);  do it, various international venues (2013-15); Liverpool Biennial 2014 (2014); the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Encyclopaedic Palace, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice (2013); and Empire State: New York Art Now, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013). In 2015, the first major monograph on the artist’s work was published by JRP Ringier to mark his exhibitions at South London Gallery and Kunsthalle Zürich, with texts by Fionn Meade and Liam Gillick, and an interview by Beatrix Ruf, Niels Olsen and Fredi Fischli. On 02 September at 1pm, Aran will be in conversation at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.


For further information please contact the gallery at +44 (0)20 7493 8611 or


Sadie Coles HQ
62 Kingly Street London W1B 5QN
9 Balfour Mews London W1 
T: +44 (0) 20 7493 8611 
F: +44 (0) 20 7499 4878

Sadie Coles HQ

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