Michal Rovner: Evolution
March 19–May 13, 2018
229 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto
Palo Alto - Pace Gallery is pleased to present its first solo exhibition in Palo Alto dedicated to the work of pioneering artist Michal Rovner. On view at 229 Hamilton Ave. from March 9 through May 13, 2018 with an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, March 8, from 4 - 7 p.m., Evolution features videos and prints that mark a return to Rovner's unique, abstracted language. The exhibition also follows Pace Gallery's presentation at Photofairs 2018, featuring Rovner's video and photography work.
Rovner's last exhibition at Pace in New York in 2016, Night, featured images of jackals from encounters in dark fields. Her encounters with darkness generate nocturnal images, capturing moments that are immersed in shadows. The works reverberate an unfamiliar dimension, a sense of fear and alertness, primal powers and the night within us. A central part of Evolution is a powerful video work Nilus (2018) - a nocturnal silhouette of a jackal, stretched across two screens, as across two pages of a book, whose space is filled with dense lines of miniature human figures.
The unique nocturnal light, something in the shape of the vigilant animal, possibly exposed to danger, the glimmer of its hollow eyes in which human figures appear occasionally to be reflected - all of these elements along with the dense lines of the flickering "text," create a disturbing feeling that something is amiss, perhaps the creature is artificial, maybe a cloned jackal, maybe a hybrid. Duality and duplication recur across several aspects of this work, and are especially prominent in the double movement: the sporadic movement of the jackal, and the repetitive movement of the human figures, which appear to be marking themselves, or signaling, or calling out for help.
In her return to her language of abstraction, which consists of duplicated patterns of human movements, Rovner has intensified this language. The human figures have lost basic contours, to the point that their humanity is sometimes hard to identify; gone are the landscapes in which the figures move; the movement itself, which apparently repeats itself, has become more wild; the lines, structures and patterns change more rapidly; florescent-like red flashes appear, that call to mind the emergency, danger and alarm lights that permeate our world.
Across the works in the exhibition, Rovner presents us with the evolution of these hieroglyphic-like, narrative-less "texts." At first they are much more representative, clearer, relatively stable; then they become more rapid, fleeting, hard to grasp, ambiguous, alluding to the intensity and communication overload of a reality that allows us to see everything, from the electronic innards of a computer to brain synapses, a reality of barcodes, control panels, matrix charts, microchips, and the like. While the lines of text still invariably feature human figures, human signs and gestures; reading them is becoming harder and harder. In the end, only the writing remains, as a signifier without the signified, striving to be seen, to sparkle, flash, stand out, as if the ultimate representation of human consciousness is signaling for help.
Michal Rovner (b. 1957, Israel) is known for her multimedia practice of drawing, printmaking, video, sculpture, and installation. Her work has and continues to define a new and evocative language of abstraction, broadly addressing themes of history, humanity and time. While generally avoiding specific issues or events, Rovner's work shifts between the poetic and the political, and between current time and historical memory, raising questions of identity, dislocation, and the fragility of human existence. She records and erases visual information, obscuring specifics of time and place through gestural, abstract qualities and creating works with universal threads.
Rovner has been the subject of over seventy solo exhibitions held at venues including The Art Institute of Chicago (1993); Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1994); Tate Gallery, London (1997); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri (2001); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002); and Museo d'arte contemporanea Roma (Al Mattatoio), Rome (2003). In 2003, Rovner was selected to represent Israel at the Venice Biennale where she presented the exhibition Against Order? Against Disorder?. In 2005, Fields was presented at Jeu de Paume in collaboration with Festival d'Automne à Paris, before traveling to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2006. Other major monographic exhibitions have been held at L'Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris (2011); Musèe du Louvre, Paris, (2011); Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico (2014); and the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (2015).
Rovner was the recipient of the Tel Aviv Museum Award in 1997 and received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2008. Her work is held in numerous collections worldwide, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oświęcim, Poland; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; The British Museum, London; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Jewish Museum, New York; Lambert Art Collection, Geneva; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; Museo d'arte contemporanea Roma (Al Mattatoio); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Authority, Jerusalem, among others.
Michal Rovner has been represented by Pace since 2003.
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