Terry Winters: The Painter’s Cabinet

Terry Winters: The Painter’s Cabinet

Kunsthaus Graz

Terry Winters, Phase Plane Portrait, 1994. Appletree Collection. Photo: Steven Sloman. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery and Jablonka Galerie, Cologne.

March 18, 2016
Terry Winters
The Painter’s Cabinet
March 11–August 21, 2016
Kunsthaus Graz
Lendkai 1
8020 Graz

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American artist Terry Winters’* work deals with the description of nature in the widest sense: “The function of painting is to create a new ‘optic of nature,’ that’s still a good job description.” His painting uses abstract processes to create images of a real world. In doing so, his interest lies in the capacity of painting to give body to the immaterial. In his related works on paper, Winters’ intentions are concentrated within smaller formats that comprise a database of forms, which both anticipate and parallel the paintings.

For The Painter’s Cabinet exhibition, Winters focuses on the correspondence between art and science. Since the dawn of modernity, Western science and art have been engaged in a highly idiosyncratic dialogue producing a wide range of valuable insights. Both are inconceivable without the other, although at times they may seem far apart. Like science, art seeks to show the world and to reveal its underlying order even if by sometimes breaking with the familiar categories and classifications. Especially in recent years, there has been a continuous and apparent parallel interest in the way that art and science attempt to understand the world. Likewise, museums have proven to be a fitting site for the encounters and dialogues between these fields. Especially at the Kunsthaus Graz, an innovative gallery established within a traditional museum—the Universalmuseum Joanneum—an institution that links different historical disciplines. These constellations prove to be incredibly valuable. For the bicentenary of the Joanneum the group exhibition Measuring the World, Heterotopias and Knowledge Spaces in Art, 2011, selected and showed artistic positions concerning the issues mentioned above from very specific angles. Two large cycles by Winters were included in that exhibition. In his series of ninety drawings, Local Group, 2004, one could admire his art of abstract structures whose episteme reveals thoroughly cosmological dimensions. Now, Winters’ solo exhibition at the Kunsthaus Graz continues this approach and is devoted to a deeper exploration of the complex oeuvre of this artist. It is an attempt to point rigorous abstract painting back towards the concrete world and at the same time to extend the ambition and desire to propel images into other dimensions. Or, expressed in Malevich’s terms, to enrich a non-objective world with corresponding objects. The method employed in the exhibition soon makes clear the great extent to which language and images present systems that are not always congruent—a principle that cannot be emphasized too often. For Winters, this field of tension is also a location that should be seen as a driving force of creative energy. It is an important—if not the most important—aspect of modernity in its efforts to give the world accurate images of knowledge and the powers of insight.

In the current exhibition, Terry Winters arranges his own work with specimens drawn from the natural science collections of the Universalmuseum Joanneum. Winters makes visible a network of objects and disciplines, narrating the interaction of disparate fields of knowledge. Within this context the installation becomes a large-scale laboratory experiment with pictorial insights. This allows us to see and experience what significant contribution painting can still have today—as a form that expertly combines basic human knowledge with the thoroughly spiritual experience of art.

*1949 in Brooklyn, NY, lives in New York and Columbia County, NY

Curated by Peter Pakesch

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Kunsthaus Graz
March 18, 2016

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