Rita Ackermann in her Brooklyn studio, January 2020. Photo: Tanya & Zhenya Posternak

Rita Ackermann: Mama '19

20 February 2020

New paintings by Rita Ackermann are on view at Hauser & Wirth 22nd Street in New York.

The latest body of work features a suite of new paintings in which figures and motifs rise to the surface of canvases, only to dissolve and reappear elsewhere again.

It begins with a line and ends with a line.

Each painting has the line as its core.

There is no story line one can follow.

It is the line of life which runs through it.

Drawings are like veins leading to the heart, leading through the bloodline.

I don't know if life is forever but I know I make paintings to live.

Therefore I must deconstruct the contours of the figure.

Borderline is when the line is blurred, undetermined around a person.

It is a character default.

Erased, blurred boundaries, no limits.

Automatic drawings of the Dada games gave the line to the blind.

The lines of the unconscious which lead to the unknown.

Over and over re-addressing the line to find blindly the contour.

Through the lines there is a flow fast and slow, always with a different speed.

Without mastering humility it is not possible to obtain vertical mobility

in order to illuminate new boundaries in painting.

What I hope for my paintings is that they think themselves into existence.

                                                                                                       —Rita Ackermann

Installation view, Rita Ackermann, 'Mama '19', 2020. Photo: Thomas Barratt

Rita Ackermann, 'Mama, Midsummer Night's Dream', 2019 (Detail) © Rita Ackermann

Furthering her distinctive approach to layering of drawings, the works on view in ‘Mama ‘19’ are built through an additive and subtractive process. Here, her palette and gestural vocabulary has expanded to evoke a vibrant interior realm through the application of paint. Thick layers of impasto and oil stick are vigorously and repeatedly applied and scraped with both the paintbrush and the artist’s bare hands working to shape a site of ancestry and conception. Ackermann’s work rejects efforts to read as stories.

An inheritor of the gestural abstractions of such American masters as Willem de Kooning and Cy Twombly, her images are the product of automatic gestures, a subconscious unfolding on the canvas. Her’s is a study of relationships – between figuration and abstraction, between personal and collective experience within.

The exhibition coincides with the release of a new publication of the same title via Hauser & Wirth Publishers with contributions by Scott Griffin, Harmony Korine and the artist herself. – ‘Rita Ackermann, Mama ‘19’, is on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street 20 February- 11 April 2020.