CRG Gallery is pleased to present the first New York solo exhibition of Berlin-based artist Eva Berendes, comprised of new work in plaster, metal, and assemblage. Berendes’ work deals with fundamental questions of image-making, examining the constituent elements of painting and interrogating how we establish an object as a painting. She regards her work in relationship to the human body, to architectural space, and to other objects, whether these objects are quotidian products or artifacts from the Applied Arts.
The exhibition’s arrangement vaguely resembles a long shut down retail store, constituted of objects reminiscent of abandoned display elements–an allusion also hinted at by the title of the show. Spring/Summer is a playful jab at the way in which the fashion and design industries have trivialized seasons, using them to delineate similar saleable objects from one another four times a year. Even though Berendes’ work undoubtedly considers aesthetic trends of the Applied Arts, Arts & Crafts, and more fine arts conceptual movements like the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism, it does not seek to bridge the difference between design and fine art or between purely formal concerns and purely conceptual considerations. Berendes draws attention to the material presence of her objects to explore the potential for the elegant reconciliation of disparate materials.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large-scale hanging construction, Untitled (Spring/Summer) (2014), measuring nearly 19 X 13 feet (6 X 4 meters). Composed of textiles draped over a framework of metal poles and rope, it is reminiscent of an elaborate stage curtain or a shop window backdrop. The consequential pull of gravity and the fluctuation of the gallery’s air circulation both influence what must be, by virtue of its composition, an object informed by its surroundings. Leaning against the gallery walls throughout the exhibition space are Grids (2014) composed of a small selection of objects on a rectilinear cut of industrial wire mesh, a netting which rests on a wooden cross support. The objects, made, found or bought by the artist (items like translucent plastic sheeting, scarves and spray painted cardboard) are situated directly on the grid and are held by hanging supports like magnets, bungee cords and hooks. These provide a method of impermanent affiliation that reinforces the equitable relationship between image and support. Such considerations are evoked on a larger scale by the interplay between the framework and undulating fabric of Untitled (Spring/Summer). Both the Grids and the large hanging element arrive at proportional arrangements that, despite each objects material and commercial characteristics, allude to a painterly composition.
White plaster reliefs punctuate the gallery walls as quiet juxtapositions to the larger installation works. Their grooved and gnarled surfaces are derived from the rough wooden cladding they were cast in. The result is a presentation of off-cuts, so that the structures that ultimately formulate the shape and materiality of the object are presented as the images of importance, not as things to be disguised or hidden. The plasters can also be seen between the gaps of the fabrics and the ropes of Untitled (Spring/Summer), so that they become an architectural backdrop to the installation and the viewer becomes a figurative element of the works’ pictorial gestalt. Berendes provides a veiled view of the places, constructions and platforms that normally determine the viewer’s interaction with the work but remain unseen, bringing contradictions, visual relationships and contextual shifts to the fore.