Ken Price New Work

31 May7 July 2007

6 rue St-Georges | St-Jorisstraat

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In 1960, Ken Price (° 1935, Los Angeles) had his first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. In 1979 and 1981, he participated at the Whitney Biennial. Over the years, his work appeared in numerous museum exhibitions regarding LA’s contribution to twentieth-century art, including most recently “The Birth of an Artistic Capital”, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. The work of Ken Price can be found in an impressive number of important collections in the United States and Europe like the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Menil Collection, Houston; the Art Institute of Chicago, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam,… But, despite his impressive record, the name and significance of Ken Price are paradoxically little known, especially in Europe.

Xavier Hufkens is proud to present a first solo exhibition with Ken Price in Belgium, and, at the same time the first European one in 30 years time. For his exhibition in Brussels, Ken Price has selected eleven new sculptures and four sculptures from 2003. A catalogue is published with an essay by Dave Hickey, the renowned American art critic and personal friend of the artist.

With consummate craftsmanship and a brilliant sense of colour, Price has been making ceramic sculptures since the early 1960’s. His handmade forms have continued to evolve over the years. The typical Price sculpture is “a small, biomorphic… thing, a non-representational handful of strangeness that vaguely resembles a smooth internal organ, sometimes boasting suggestive orifices”. The new sculptures are best described as blobs, formed singly or collectively bunched. They bulge, ripple and drip into colourful, voluptuous forms suffused with seductive wit and a myriad of visual associations.

Price models the sculptures and fires them rough. He then applies about seventy thin layers of colour (usually 14 colours, five coats of each) in a predetermined sequence and sands the pieces until they are smooth, dappled and correct. For Price’s recent work, he usually had to sand down about eight layers of paint in order to reveal the right constellation of unexpected hues and patterns that meld the works’ form and surface into one organic whole.

Price frames his work as simply a manifestation of that which he finds pleasurable. In a lecture he explained: “I make concrete objects that stay the same, pretty much for the whole time they exist…Whereas meaning is based a lot on social conventions; it is provisional. And as time goes by, those meanings can give way to other meanings, and they can go on changing forever… I make sensual work. The use of my work is to lead to an experience that might make life more interesting or enjoyable, like listening to music, or reading poetry. And I don’t see myself as strictly a formalist either. I’m trying to get feeling into my work, like joy. Sometimes I want it to have, you know, an ominous quality, so that it has an edge, and humour in the form too, if possible.”

Exhibition view

Ken Price
New Work

essay by Dave Hickey, published by Xavier Hufkens, 2007, 40 pages, English

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