January 15, 2009 - MK Gallery - Polly Apfelbaum
January 15, 2009

Polly Apfelbaum

Show Girls (2008)
Courtesy the artist

Polly Apfelbaum
Anything can happen in a horse race

31 January – 22 March 2009

Admission free
900 Midsummer Boulevard,
Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3QA


Exhibition supported by The Locks Foundation, The Henry Moore Foundation and Frith Street Gallery, London

Milton Keynes Gallery is pleased to present American artist Polly Apfelbaum’s first solo exhibition in a UK public gallery. Her work is characterised by an exacting investigation into colour and form, mainly manifesting itself as expansive floor-based installations.

Describing her works as ‘fallen paintings’, Apfelbaum’s practice brings together two of the legacies of twentieth century American art history: Minimalism and Pop Art. In recent years, Apfelbaum has employed imagery appropriated from Pop’s father figure, Andy Warhol, in the form of dingbats and flower motifs. In addition to the floor-based installation work, these have appeared in many shapes and guises, such as vivid screen-prints, woodblocks or shapes drawn with dye on synthetic velvet. Other work is more abstract, utilising stains and blots that suggest organic form.

In a departure from her usual practice of fabricating the elements of her work first in her New York studio, Apfelbaum will be making all the new work for Milton Keynes Gallery’s exhibition on-site when she arrives, over the course of five days. For the artist, it is important for the work to be ‘situational’ and to involve an element of performance, in direct response to the gallery space. “I think it helps move the work away from the object, thinking of it more as a series of relationships, both in space, but also in time – the piece only exists for the duration of the show.” [Quote from an interview with writer and critic Morgan Falconer, Art World Magazine, February/March 2008]. This gives the work a more casual, impermanent feel – the artist has referred to it as an ‘automatic abstraction’.

In another departure for Apfelbaum, her new works will use what appear at first glance to be simple offcuts of highly reflective, sequined fabric. These hard-edged, spidery forms will contrast with her previous work which involved the aggregation of similar shapes and sizes. Instead they will offer spatially ambiguous yet compelling colour-themed installations that evoke more calligraphic and abstract readings.

The installations in each of the Gallery’s three rooms refer to three famous American gambling cities – Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City. In Atlantic City, Apfelbaum will explore the graphic possibilities of black, capitalising on the use of positive and negative shapes. Reno, a silver-themed room will explore silver’s capacity to reflect and capture other colours while Las Vegas will be a multi-coloured room featuring thirteen colours in sequence (a colour system determined by the available colours from the fabric manufacturer’s line).

An illustrated catalogue with texts by writer and critic Morgan Falconer and Lauren O’Neill-Butler, Managing Editor of Artforum.com will accompany the exhibition.

In Conversation: Polly Apfelbaum and David Batchelor
There will be an opportunity to hear Polly Apfelbaum discuss her work with artist and writer David Batchelor at Milton Keynes Gallery on 31 January at 3pm. Tickets are free, pre-booking is essential on 01908 676 900. This event is supported by The Open University.

Milton Keynes Gallery
900 Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3QA
Admission free
Open: Tues – Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 11am–5pm, Thurs open late until 8pm.
Telephone: 01908 676 900
Website: www.mk-g.org

Milton Keynes Gallery

MK Gallery
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