Hauser & Wirth presents ‘Vertical Vanish,’ an exhibition of recent paintings by Hungarian-born artist Rita Ackermann. ‘Vertical Vanish’ opens 2 February, and will remain on view in the North Gallery of Hauser & Wirth’s Downtown Los Angeles Arts District complex through 30 April. This is Ackermann’s first West Coast exhibition with the gallery.
Composed primarily of large-scale oil paintings that intuitively recast the interplay of line, color and form, ‘Vertical Vanish’ makes a game of repeated gestures, figures and motifs. Pre-drawn scenes obscurely emerge from the background, only to disappear into impasto fields of imbricated color. Through a series of gestural interventions guided by the artist’s hand—an admixture of drawing, painting and erasure—oil paints, China markers and acrylics are heavily worked onto surfaces of canvas or raw linen.
The lines constituting Ackermann’s figures are lost to near total abstraction; thickly applied washes of paint are scraped away at, giving rise to revelatory compositions. In addition to the larger works, a selection of small, overpainted monotype prints on paper (all dating from 2022) will also be on view. These small paintings occupy a middle distance between the mindful reworking of available materials at hand and the unveiling of hidden motifs.
In works such as ‘Vertical Vanish’ (2022), the painting from which the exhibition’s name derives, underlying figures are overlaid with vivid detonations of color. The materialized afterimage of these colored saturations acts like a veil which seems to environ the viewer while falling just shy of articulating any precise narrative.
The measured intensity by which pigments are worked over communicates the purposeful energy of a spatial calligraphy. Relative to the three erased figures at the foreground of the canvas, the ascending vertical spiral becomes the centerpiece of the painting, preserving the harmony of opposing rhythms.
The kind of dynamism Ackermann’s paintings communicate at least partially derives from the sense of urgency that goes into making them. Working on a particular picture may very well involve entering into the uncertain arena of various rescue operations: unforeseeable problems or intended accidents that the artist has to work around or assimilate. – Jeffrey Grunthaner
The opposing impulses of creation and destruction mark the touchstone of the Hungarian-born, New York-based artist Rita Ackermann’s practice, which continues to evolve and manifest itself in the shift from representation to abstraction.
Rita AckermannVertical Vanish
On view now through 30 April 2023 at Hauser & Wirth Downtown Los Angeles.