Rita Ackermann

Splits

2 May – 26 July 2024

New York, 22nd Street

On 2 May, Hauser & Wirth will present Rita Ackermann’s latest series of paintings and prints in simultaneous exhibitions spanning the gallery’s two West Chelsea locations. At 542 West 22nd Street, the artist will debut a suite of new canvases expanding upon the techniques, themes and imagery she has explored over the course of her career since the early 1990s, while at 443 West 18th Street she will unveil a series of complex large-scale silkscreens. Heralding a significant leap in her artistic practice, these prints represent a dramatic convergence of the technical processes of printmaking with Ackermann’s sustained exploration of form, movement and erasure.

Dr. Pamela Kort on Rita Ackermann’s exhibitions:

Splits
Titled ‘Splits,’ Ackermann’s latest paintings mark a pinnacle in the artist’s ongoing concern with the creation of dynamic, moving images. In these canvases, forms cascade downward and upward, at times merging seamlessly into one another. To optimize the potential of such chance transformative processes, Ackermann conceptualized the canvas as divided into three screens, as she aptly calls them. This enabled her not only to guide the flow of line and paint, but also to forestall the coalescence of drawing and painting. No sketch prefigured the images that surfaced, except those carved into the recesses of her memory. Instead, Ackermann allowed an instinctive force to guide her hand as it moved across the fields before her.

The fluctuation between the screens she populated with diaphanous lines and those carrying weightier, gestural strokes of color also conspired to infuse the paintings with an unexpected rhythm. In ‘Shut Eye’ (2023), for example, two screens brimming with fragments of drawn shapes entice the eye to actively pull open the middle register and thereby show more of the painted forms within. This occurs even as the upper and lower screens seem to press inward, creating a dynamic tension between revelation and concealment. To enhance this impression, Ackermann occasionally used luminous yellow pigment to further instill in these paintings a sense of lightness and transparency.

Composed as a sequence of stacked-up semi-translucent frames, these canvases can also be seen as the visual equivalent of images imprinted on a film strip. Ackermann, in fact, draws parallels between the transformative essence of the images in the ‘Splits’ and the dynamic permutations observed when montaged photographic images are projected in a cinema. In both mediums, meaning opens in the infinitesimal split between what the eye sees and the elusive. There, a unique motion also unfolds, one that oscillates between appearance and truth. In all these paintings, there is mystery, one that hints at the presence of the profound and unknowable. Through their enigmatic allure, the ‘Splits’ encourage the viewer to ponder the ineffable, reminding us that while transcendence eludes sight, its essence can nonetheless reveal itself.

2 May – 26 July 2024

Rita Ackermann. Splits: Printing | Painting

On view at New York, 18th Street

In the thick of bringing to canvas the metamorphic forms that would become the ‘Splits,’ Ackermann embarked on a new artistic endeavor, delving into the realm of printmaking. In the resultant seven large-scale silkscreens, which she produced in collaboration with master printer Keigo Takahashi, her concern with making manifest such images became imbued with a related objective: the transformation of paintings into prints, without recourse to the reproduction of a model.

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About the Artist

Rita Ackermann

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.

Current Exhibitions