Alan Uglow
David Zwirner, New York
February 19 – March 23, 2013

The current exhibition of work by the late Alan Uglow (1941-2011) at David Zwirner highlights the way Uglow’s abstract paintings engage with each other and the viewer to create subtle, shifting apprehensions of flatness and illusion.  Uglow acknowledged interest in such interactions in a 1991 interview in BOMB, telling Alain Kirili how, when installing his own work for an exhibition, he found that:

two pieces ended up being one piece, attracting one another across the room. They were like bodies, in a way, but it really brought the spectator into the piece; that was the reason why they had to be opposite one another.

In the current show, perhaps the most compelling of these interactions occurs between two works on canvas of the same size, Standard #8 (Blue), 1994 and Portrait of a Standard (Blue), 2000. By pairing the first – an abstract painting whose flat forms are schematic and derived from markings observed on a soccer field with the second – a silkscreened canvas depicting a nearly identical painting photographed at an angle, Uglow creates a visual experience charged with the potential of both abstraction and representation.

Reviewing Uglow’s work in 2010, painter Joan Waltemath described her experience of viewing two similar pieces:

In the next room, a large “Standard #23 (grey)” from 1998 stands against one wall on hardwood blocks, an aspect of Uglow’s installation that serves to enhance the object quality of the painting. On an adjacent wall, “Portrait of a Standard #3 (silver)” (2000), a photo-silkscreened version of a standard piece angled to the plane of the canvas, also stands on little hardwood blocks. The canvas and blocks provide information about qualities of the object that are missing from the silkscreened image, while the angled image of the photo-silkscreen exhibits properties that are both similar to and different from those of the painted object. Light reflecting off the silver silkscreened bands jumps out from the image at certain vantage points, and at others nearly disappears, but the implications of the artist’s position, as embedded in these works, require thought. Object and image are so fitfully intertwined in this constellation, any attempt to separate them becomes labyrinthine and begs the question of what it means to do so.

Like all painting, Uglow’s work can only truly be experienced in person, however, the video below, produced by the gallery, provides an online sense of these characteristic shifts between “object and image” Waltemath describes.

If the video does not appear please refresh the page or click here.

Related Post

Related Artist

Related Topics