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.
From the Quarterly
Edmund de Waal: white island
Edmund de Waal considers Ibiza, Walter Benjamin, and the “aura of things” in a text entitled white island, written to accompany his first exhibition in Spain at the Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza.
A text by Edmund de Waal touches on the inspiration he finds in the work of Giorgio Morandi.
Edmund de Waal at Frieze London
In this video the artist walks us through his installation at Frieze London, speaking of how this new body of work reflects memories and recollections.
Sally Mann: Remembered Light
Edmund de Waal and Sally Mann discuss Cy Twombly’s relationship to photography, Mann’s pervasive interest in the American South, and the context behind her newest body of work.