Charles Ray – black & white

Charles Ray – black & white

Astrup Fearnley Museet

Charles Ray, “Untitled (tractor)”, 2003-05

October 15, 2006

Charles Ray
black & white

16 September-17 December 2006

Astrup Fearnley
Museum of Modern Art
Dronningens gate 4, Oslo, Norway
tel: 47 22 93 60 60

With great pleasure Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art presents the exhibition black & white, with works by American artist Charles Ray (b. 1953). Ray has had a unique position within contemporary art the last 30 years. His works are rich in art historical references, yet they also stand out as having an unmistakeable originality.

The exhibition is entitled black & white, and the idea of black and white is the leitmotif throughout the exhibition. One cant reduce the art of Charles Ray to the notion of black and white, but one can choose works for an exhibition of Charles Ray that are only in black and white. To a large degree, the choice of title and thematic have contributed to clarifying Rays project and the purpose of this exhibition is to direct attention to the core of Charles Rays artistic practice.

Intrigued by the vocabulary and thematics of Anthony Caros practice including the junction of different elements within a work, and a works relationship to surrounding space Ray has cleverly worked through the legacy of minimalism in his pursuit of extra-formalistic potentialities. Introducing his body into the creative process, and into the art object itself, the artist creates performative sculptures which generate emanative relationships between spectators and artworks.

Charles Ray doesnt really create forms but he isnt an appropriationist either. He manipulates existing forms and figures like altered readymades, or quotes. His practice is a cycle of reprises. And with these borrowed and renewed elements he creates spectacular surprises, sensations through a play of materials, and an unexpected manipulation of weight, size and perception. Rays art is endlessly witty and his work is at once extremely funny, tragic-comic and beautiful.

Behind the first level of appearance and the more obvious connotations of cultural and social symbols lies a reflection that is more abstract as well as more sensitive. These are the individual forces that manipulate the perception and experience of the spectator and they form the basis of Rays oeuvre. Indeed, the mechanism of most of his work is constructed around a duality: with the passing of time, his art frequently reveals itself to be something else than one observes at first glance.

This explains why Rays works are always conceived in layers, both conceptually and materially as well. In the process of revelation, a physiologically intriguing if not disturbing experience of puzzling strangeness occurs. Aiming to give sense and meaning to the form itself by rephrasing, transforming or subverting the initial structure the artist charges the objects with emotional meaning in a situation of attraction or repulsion. This is where the sensation takes place; Rays sublime moment. It is simultaneously cognitive and physical, and creates a certain kinesthetic aspect.

Rays practice bridges modernism, pop, minimalism and conceptualism. Whatever nomenclature one chooses to describe his methodology, critical distance, intelligent reflection and genuine intuition anchor his production. He is a master of adopting and recreating art forms that translate, illustrate, represent and perform both obvious and obscure forces which cumulatively thrust the spectator into a captivating experience.

The exhibition includes art from the early 1970s and up to today, with some completely new works shown for the first time. The curators for the exhibition are Gunnar B. Kvaran and Hanne Beate Ueland. The exhibition is organized in close collaboration with the artist.
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
Dronningens gate 4, Oslo, Norway
tel: 47 22 93 60 60

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Astrup Fearnley Museet
October 15, 2006

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