Opening reception: Thursday, February 7, 6-8 p.m.
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For her first show in New York in six years, Nancy Spero will present a major installation, Azur, a two hundred seventy foot piece wrapping the walls of the gallery.
Azur contains all key elements in the artist’s body of work, which now spans more than forty years of consistent and tenacious achievement. Azur can be seen as a lyrical voyage through a sky, which is always changing in its constellations. Collage and original drawing appear in alternate passages in an almost cinematic progression. For Spero, the sky represents a continuum of experience, mood and meaning. Nothing is static, and all, from sky goddesses and dancing female figures to political protestors, is in dialectic motion. In sharp contrast to Spero’s previous delicate and fugitive frescos, the surface in Azur is highly saturated in color and texture. Belying our notions of the fragility of works on paper, Azur is monumental in scale, its thirty-nine horizontal sections representing five years in the making. Intensifying the sense of cinema, the artist employs panoply of characters that appear and reappear in other works.
Also on view is Hours of the Night, an eleven part vertical work, which is a physical and intellectual counterpart to Azur. Hours of the Night is a recurring theme in Spero’s work; the first version was completed in 1974. Since her early black paintings in the late 1950’s, Spero has often employed night as a metaphor and also as a primary and private working time for herself. Taking as inspiration the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Spero has used vertical panels to represent eleven of the twelve hours of the night, searching out all the complexities which take place in the night - death, eroticism, fear, dreams, nightmares, birth, bondage - all that it is forbidden or feared in waking life. Implicit in the work’s cycle is the viewer’s return, after a difficult journey, to a new and transformed life.
Nancy Spero’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world. Her most recent solo shows were organized at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Recently the MTA Arts for Transit commissioned Spero for a public project at the 66th Street Subway Station at Lincoln Center. In 2000-2001, Nancy Spero was included in many group shows such as Opens Ends at MoMA, New York and the Kwangju Biennial, Korea. Forthcoming projects include an installation in the Egyptian Galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a joint exhibition at the Baltic Center, England and the Kunsthalle Zu Kiel. A monograph from Abbeville Press is forthcoming.
For more information and images, please contact Galerie Lelong.