Gallery Hopping: Adrian Ghenie Blurs All the Right Lines at Pace Gallery

In his latest work, the painter embraces abstraction.

Adrian Ghenie Rest During the Flight Into Egypt (2016). Photo: Adrian Ghenie, courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Adrian Ghenie’s meteoric rise continued at Pace Gallery last Thursday, where the artist opened his first New York solo exhibition in four years.

Spanning 12 new paintings, the show demonstrates the development of the Romanian artist’s practice as he gradually distances himself from the figurative imagery of his early career. In his latest paintings, Ghenie blurs the line, often literally, between abstraction and figuration, as he tests the limits of representational painting.

Exemplified by the three self portraits included in the exhibition, Ghenie exhibits his deft brushwork and paint handling ability through the work’s facial obscurations executed in saturated yellows, pinks, and oranges. The resulting images are unexpected and unsettling at times, leaning on the lessons learned from gazing into the psychotic nature of Francis Bacon’s portraiture.

Adrian Ghenie "Recent Paintings" (2016) installation view at Pace Gallery, New York. Photo: Adrian Ghenie, courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Adrian Ghenie “Recent Paintings” (2016) installation view at Pace Gallery, New York. Photo: Adrian Ghenie, courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Also included in the show are five collages that provide an insight into the painter’s creative process. For the past three years, Ghenie has used paper cutouts as a studies or blueprints for his larger canvases.

The impact of cutouts on his oil paintings can be observed in the delineated sections painted in The Storm (2016) which verge on pure abstraction, where the separate parts bear only a passing resemblance to the figuration of his earlier works.

Adrian Ghenie Self-Portrait (2016). Photo: Adrian Ghenie, courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Adrian Ghenie Self-Portrait (2016). Photo: Adrian Ghenie, courtesy of Pace Gallery.

The show also marks a departure from the artist’s thematic preoccupation with post-communist Romania and social change throughout Europe, as he begins to place greater emphasis on the technical discipline of painting in the next phase of his career.

The show comes at a time when Ghenie’s market is really gaining traction amid a steep rise in auction prices. The Romanian was the breakout star of last year’s high-end evening sales, where his 2008 painting Nickelodeon fetched £7.1 million ($9 million) at Christie’s London in October, a record for the artist. And in mid November two more of his paintings sold for a total $5.3 million at Christie’s New York.

Adrian Ghenie: Recent Paintings” runs through February 18, 2017 at Pace Gallery‘s West 25th Street space in New York.


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