This work takes the form of a number of panels hung to incorporate the colour (or absence of it) from the wall behind. Bands of red, orange and black are broken by each other, and by the physical space as well. This is minimalism evolving – with a move away from traditional monochrome, but a palette still applied to simple, rigid shapes, Maurer is interested in the interstice of tone and form. The use of space makes the work hover somewhere between painting and sculpture, and the wooden boards on which she’s painted are treated as objects in their own right rather than ‘just’ surfaces. Similarly, Maurer’s ‘Hidden Structures 1-6’, 1977-80, are interested in the way in which a two dimensional surface can be manipulated to suggest a three dimensional one. Here, depth is implied by pencil shading and rubbing to create the illusion of shadow, and by drawing over fold-lines; the traces of the paper’s prior manipulation must mean that the flat surface, at one point, extended into our space and beyond its own.
Dóra Maurer's '6 out of 5' at White Cube.
Summer openings have such a different atmosphere to winter ones – beer in the courtyard feels like a natural progression rather than an endurance test, and it’s still light outside.
Dóra Maurer, ‘6 out of 5’ at White Cube Mason’s Yard is organised by Katharine Kostyál, and opened on Monday night. Summer openings have such a different atmosphere to winter ones – beer in the courtyard feels like a natural progression rather than an endurance test, and it’s still light outside. The natural light flooding in to the ground floor gallery from the lobby touches beautifully upon the exhibition’s title piece, ‘6 out of 5’, from 1979.
In 'Hidden Structures 1-6', depth is implied by pencil shading and rubbing to create the illusion of shadow, and by drawing over fold-lines; the traces of the paper’s prior manipulation must mean that the flat surface, at one point, extended into our space and beyond its own.
Speaking about her most recent series, the IXEK paintings, Maurer explains that ‘the individual elements […] have not only a formal influence on each other but also a chromatic one’, and the seed of this thought is clear in ‘6 out of 5’ despite the fact that it was created 30 years previously. ‘Overlapping’ from the 1990s, a series presented downstairs alongside IXEK, seems to me to constitute the bridge between her early and current practice: an interaction between the work and its physical context and the use of line to suggest movement are married with the layering of colour to imply a three-dimensionality. Tones overlap in ‘Overlappings’: embracing a natural progression in IXEK, Maurer applies coats of paint ‘in order’, as it were, and their translucence allows the tones to interplay and promote the illusion of depth.
These series are exhibited alongside some of Maurer’s earliest work; this juxtaposition proves to be an impressively harmonious one, considering the vastly different mediums the artist’s work has employed over the years. Dynamic paintings take centre stage on the lower level, while in the adjacent lobby we see a conceptual, black-and-white film and the photographic work ‘Reversible and Changeable Phases of Movements’ (1972). The photos are arranged in a grid formation, lending them a narrative drive which can be read either left-right or right-left. They thereby simultaneously reject a conventional temporality, and cement their own internal logic.
The exhibition as a whole is not arranged according to the chronology of the work presented. Rather than confusing our experience, sensitive curatorship makes it easier to find the common thread in Maurer’s diverse body of work. Although her art spans frottage, film, photography and painting, it’s all underpinned by an investigation of movement, logic, and an interest in self-sustaining, closed systems. ‘Reversible and Changeable Phases of Movements’ can be read either future-wards or ‘backwards’, and stakes the claim of a minute event to its own temporal space. Her paintings both rely on the physical world in which we see them for their context, and constitute their own dialogue of colour and form.
Although her art spans frottage, film, photography and painting, it’s all underpinned by an investigation of movement, logic, and an interest in self-sustaining, closed systems.
Her frottage, ‘Hidden Surfaces 1-6’ is perhaps my favourite work from ‘6 out of 5’. It’s the quietest and most elegant means of evoking space and depth in two dimensions, and the conceit of folding and unfolding (only to leave a fold) strikes me as especially charming and powerful. You can read a story backwards, play a film from the end, look at the colour painted last over a hundred others beneath it. You can unfold a folded corner, ventures Maurer, but what’s done is done.
Dóra Maurer's '6 out of 5', organised by Katharine Kostyál, is showing at White Cube Mason's Yard until July 9th.