Hauser & Wirth New York is pleased to present an exhibition of eighteen new paintings by Caro Niederer – the first New York solo show for an internationally admired Swiss artist whose practice encompasses painting, sculpture, tapestries, photography and video.
‘Caro Niederer. Paintings’ will open to the public on June 27th and remain on view at the gallery through July 27th.
Rather than self-contained art objects, Niederer’s paintings are open invitations to experiences that exist between the process of their production and the phenomenon of sense memory. Her starting point is usually a found photograph, picture postcard or personal snapshot of such deceptively ordinary subjects as a sliver of domestic interior, a beguiling but anonymous landscape, a pleasant vacation moment, or a passage glanced between buildings. In an open, provisional and almost childlike style, Niederer recreates these visual fragments into seemingly untroubled pictures that exploit a fundamental formal theme – the transformation of a photographic image through its replication into another medium – to plumb layers of reality and interpretation. Her paintings describe the emotion rather than the fact of their scenes through lyrical brushmarks and a palette of saturated, luminous cerulean blue, blazing magenta, ochre, and electric green. Large-scale renderings of a tabletop dotted with books and a vase of flowers (‘Reading’ 2011) or an office that has just been tidied for the night (‘Desk, View and Chandelier’ 2011) are laconic and poetic. ‘Vada’ (2012) captures figures on the beach, seen shimmering at a distance as if through half-closed eyes in the heat of the day. These paintings suggest both a distillation of the commonplace through nostalgia and a very particular brand of bittersweet sadness that comes with acknowledging the gulf between the world around us and our fleeting experience of it.
With a duo of canvases in ‘Caro Niederer. Paintings’, the artist encapsulates all of her themes into a single two-part visual essay. As their titles imply, ‘Häldeliweg uphill’ and ‘Häldeliweg downhill’ (both 2011) capture opposing views of a single street familiar to the artist, one that she has traversed innumerable times on her way to and from a key, fixed coordinate of her life. In different colors, at different times of day and in different seasons, Niederer’s small street – a passage between intimacy and distance – is a poignant metaphor for the elasticity of time.
As the first exhibition ever devoted solely to the artist’s paintings, the Hauser & Wirth show will include an historical ‘capsule survey’ of Niederer’s works from the early 1990s. These pictures – including small canvases on board presenting images from the Kama Sutra, as well as the paintings ‘Karen Blixen’s Garden’ (2006) and ‘Rieterpark II’ (2000) from Niederer’s sepia-toned ‘Brown Paintings’ series – will be presented in the skylit room at the south end of the gallery’s first floor. Here, the walls will be colored in an enveloping deep crimson tone that is a central element of the artist’s newer works.
By subjecting factual photographic compositions to the process of hand rendering and the materiality of paint, Niederer surrenders control and allows memory to cohere with anticipation. ‘My practice is like an open spiral that moves with time,’ she has said. ‘My work revolves around the subject of memory and the question of what remains that is valuable.’