Roni Horn Selected Drawings 1984 – 2012

11 June – 14 July 2012, Hauser & Wirth Zürich

‘If you were to ask me what I do, I would say I draw – this is the primary activity and that all my work has this in common regardless of idiom or material’
– Roni Horn in a letter to Paulo Herkenhoff, 2003

Hauser & Wirth is proud to announce the first survey exhibition dedicated solely to the pigment drawings of New York-based artist Roni Horn. Ranging from early pieces which showcase Horn’s initial experimentations with pure pigment and varnish to new and intricate, large-scale drawings, these works move beyond the limitations of their medium and instead explore the materiality of colour and the sculptural potential of drawing.

In the mid-1980s, Horn made her first drawings using pure pigment and featuring groupings of un-even shapes. Whether semi-conical, semi-pyramidal, or semi-rectangular, the objects waver between easily identifiable geometric forms and abstract volumes. Each is densely filled with powdered pigment in gemlike shades of deep red, bright yellow and brilliant green. The pigment is not painted within the outlines of the shape; instead it is layered thickly on to the paper, mixing in small amounts of turpentine, and then adding varnish little by little in a laborious process which lends physicality and depth to the two-dimensional works.

An important feature of Horn’s work is her sculptural and photographic explorations into the implications of repetition and doubling. Early drawings such as ‘Must 21’ (1985) also represent a two-dimensional investigation into multiplicity, perception and memory. ‘Must 21’ depicts a group of dark grey, tapered cylindrical shapes flecked with green, red and white pigments. Although similar at first glance and placed side-by-side, the shapes are not presented in a progressive or logical sequence. Instead, they have a built-in repetition with minor variations, such as the multicoloured traces of pigment, that require the viewer to commit their time and attention to teasing out the subtle differences.

Horn’s more recent drawings display a significant increase in scale and complexity. Each work is composed of separate drawings, or ‘plates’. Horn first cuts these plates then stitches elements from them together, creating entirely new forms through continuous cutting and pasting. Light pencil marks are dispersed throughout the drawings, indicating the joins of different plates and recording names or random pairings of words. These annotations marked time like a metronome as Horn carried out her exploration of the drawing’s expansive surface. In her essay in ‘Roni Horn aka Roni Horn’, Briony Fer described Horn’s work as ‘complete with missing parts’, capturing ‘the sense of a total object that is all absorbing yet at the same time intractable in some way and, therefore, always incomplete. This refusal to deliver everything easily or quickly forces us to slow down and reflect: to hold on to that tenuous hold’.