I’m trying to come closer to what it feels like to remember a poem, to carry it with you through the decades, a phrase or an image coming into your life and making the world feel denser with possibility.
—Edmund de Waal
Gagosian is pleased to present new works by Edmund de Waal.
In his visual art and his literary works de Waal uses objects—of his own creation as well as found artifacts—as vehicles for narrative, emotion, and history. His installations of porcelain vessels contained in minimalist structures reveal the ways in which simple forms act as repositories of human experience.
De Waal’s lifelong fascination with porcelain, or “white gold,” is deeply entwined with his poetic imagination. Arranged in groups and varying in size and color, his porcelain vessels recall the serial repetitions, lines, and spaces of Donald Judd or Walter De Maria. Yet, drawing on his in-depth study of and engagement with porcelain traditions, de Waal’s works bear the intricate traces of his labor and the objects’ creation, their arrangements variously evoking musical rhythms or the sense of intimate order of a porcelain cabinet.
On view for the first time, the new works in the poems of our climate bring poetry and porcelain vessels together in both physical and conceptual proximity. The cylindrical forms are arranged at intervals, forming topographies that resemble lines on a page or music in a score. Made in black or white, some vitrines recall Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915), in which the pictorial representation of reality was abandoned for pure abstract form. De Waal’s dimensional vitrines, however, become subject to ambient illumination as shadows and reflections are thrown by the objects within them.
De Waal’s installations have long incorporated lines and fragments of poetry in their titles, signaling affinities, inspirations, and connections to the literary form. “The poems of our climate” is taken from a 1942 poem by Wallace Stevens, in which language is reduced to basic functions, creating an atmospheric stillness within the poem. On minute shards and tiles of porcelain, de Waal inscribed lines of the poetry that has echoed through his life and guided the creation of his pots and vessels. By emphasizing the tile’s literal capacity as script-bearing object, he links the tactile nature of porcelain to the concrete, symbolic nature of poetry, a written medium that works in auditory and associative ways. De Waal’s metaphysical translations capture the fleeting images of poetry and the immutability of text, giving a fragmentary, tangible form to the shape of a poem on a page, the movement between two lines, the hesitancies, caesuras, or intervals.
On September 15, from 6 to 8pm, –one way or other–, de Waal’s first architectural intervention in the United States will open at the Schindler House, a landmark of West Coast modernism, in Los Angeles. The exhibition will be on view through January 6, 2019. De Waal’s exhibition, white island, at the Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa in Ibiza, Spain, closes on September 16, 2018.
the poems of our climate
Edmund de Waal reflects on memory, sound, and the presence of poetry in a new body of work on view at Gagosian, San Francisco.
Edmund de Waal: some winter pots
Join the artist in his ceramics studio as he describes the impetus behind his exhibition in London and the importance of touch in the creation of these new works.
Edmund de Waal: cold mountain clay
At his studio in London, Edmund de Waal speaks about his new body of work, created in the silence and solitude of lockdown. Composed of layers of porcelain slip inscribed with lines of verse by the poet Hanshan, these works are presented in cold mountain clay, de Waal’s first exhibition in Hong Kong.
Edmund de Waal: psalm
Edmund de Waal speaks with Alison McDonald about the components of psalm, his two-part project in Venice. He details the influences behind the exhibition and reveals some of his hopes for the project.
Rainer Maria Rilke: Duino Elegies
Bobbie Sheng explores the symbiotic relationship between the poet and visual artists of his time and tracks the enduring influence of his poetry on artists working today.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
Extended through January 30, 2021
Edmund de Waal
some winter pots
December 3, 2020–January 30, 2021
Davies Street, London