Miles McEnery Gallery
520 West 21st Street NY
Tracking the Cosmos
Often considered a pioneer of installation art, Judy Pfaff’s (British, b.1946) limitlessly innovative work evades categorization and breaks boundaries. In the early 1970s, while she was enrolled in the painting MFA program at Yale, renowned artist Al Held became her lifelong mentor and encouraged her to move beyond the limitations of the picture plane—an idea which she took to exceptional new heights. Oscillating between the two- dimensional and three-dimensional, Pfaff’s installations react to and penetrate the spaces they inhabit, transforming them into explosively dynamic environments that entice and engage the viewers’ senses.
Pulling from a variety of disciplines—including sculpture, painting, and printmaking—Pfaff’s works are unrestricted by the use of a single medium. In utilizing a diverse range of materials, Pfaff is able to draw inspiration from the realms of both the natural and the spiritual, as well as art historical imagery, and represent their essence in a distinctive and engaging manner.
The title of Irving Sandler’s monograph, Judy Pfaff: Tracking the Cosmos, hints at the broad reach of Pfaff’s art. Quartet, her major work in the exhibition at Miles McEnery Gallery, is the newest manifestation of the artist’s ambitious quest to investigate nature, life, and human experience to their fullest. Created from a rich primordial soup of materials, the artist has produced an opulent set of works that she refers to as “wall installs”— tamer translations of the installations she is known for. Forever thinking outside of the box, Pfaff uses a tsunami of materials and objects made and found; photographically derived digital images on paper to aluminum disks, wire fencing, acrylic, melted plastic, paper lanterns, fungus, arti cial owers, electric lighting, encaustics, and more. Complex and captivating, they create an experience that is both visual and tactile, inviting focused contemplation to fully perceive their many intricate parts.
Keeping in line with her oeuvre, Pfaff’s two-dimensional works on paper are far from flat. In her most recent pieces, she transforms handwritten account ledgers from India and sales receipts from a druggist in New York into canvases upon which to paint and draw. As David Levi Strauss suggests, “these works are always becoming, moving from one state of things to another, and the state of change extends as well into these works’ frames, individually activated and illuminated by fragments of gold and silver leaf.”
This notion holds true for all of Judy Pfaff’s beautifully uncontained works: always changing and inspiring, and wholly liberated from boundaries of any kind.
Miles McEnery Gallery will also present a coinciding solo booth of Judy Pfaff’s work at the ADAA’s The Art Show, from 28 February through 3 March, 2019, at the Park Avenue Armory.
until March 9, 2019