Lucy Dodd: Lake In The Sky

Sprüth Magers Berlin

Oranienburger Strasse 18, Berlin

April 29 - June 17, 2017

Sprüth Magers is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Lucy Dodd, her first with the gallery. In a practice driven by the possibilities of abstraction as a spiritual language, Dodd will present four paintings, works on paper, and a chair sculpture in a ritualised space in which both her work and their viewers will become protagonists in a highly complex theatre of signifiers. 

Framing the entrance to the exhibition is one 12-foot square canvas, almost reaching the ceiling, which functions both as a portal and grand entrance to the environment she has created beyond, asserting its status as a character in her drama. The surfaces of Dodd’s canvases have a strong resemblance to geological formations, natural phenomena made two-dimensional, as though a cross section of the earth’s crust. They belong in an alternate cosmos that ranges from the microscopic to the macroscopic and across a whole schema of topographies within the universe, from fossil beds and coral growth to crystal formations and galactic constellations. 

Dodd understands painting as an organic entity, which extends to her choice of materials, all of which are subject to the possibility of transformation. Works in the show contain, for example, squid ink, hematite, yerba mate, black lichen, and kombucha SCOBYs. These substances are as familiar in a cultic ritual as they would be in a farmer’s market. They are rubbed, sprayed, smeared, stained or left in their natural state, resembling blooms of fungus or veil-like explosions in the sky, whilst simultaneously engaging with the gendered history of lyrical abstraction and action painting. Dodd’s performance is ritualised over several weeks on the floor of her studio as she observes the effects of her materials, organic chemical reactions between them often mysteriously unfolding through time. The surface effects are likewise as much the result of taking away as they are about adding; SCOBYs for example are left on the canvas before being removed to reveal their traces. 

Raw linen is evident throughout the canvases. They are propped up and sewn neatly onto stretchers, resembling animal pelts left for curing, covers for tepees, quilts, and rugs. Despite the somewhat chaotic appearance of her work, there is a degree of restraint, as though each mark has been carefully thought through. This effect is enhanced by the notable use of symmetry that seems to undermine the free flowing nature of many of her materials. 

Alongside the two large paintings, staged so that they become architectural elements to be navigated, and connoting a sense of the exhibition space as a theatrical arena in flux, Dodd will also present two further paintings, works on paper, and a woven chair sculpture that pertains to a handmade, craft aesthetic. Matted fabric is knitted together to form a shroud over a metal chair frame; its loose strands trail along the floor as though disappearing into the ground, yet it is tethered from above by an appendage on its back. The chair and paintings are arranged throughout the exhibition, along with props, as a means of activating and transforming the space. For Dodd, the exhibition format is a form of non-linear time, with the paintings within it paying homage to a history of abstract painting that looks beyond formalism to a space of spirituality and mystery, with an authentic belief in the rituals of both producing and viewing. 

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