Jorinde Voigt: Both Sides Now

Lisson Gallery

27 Bell Street, London

May 19 – June 24, 2017

Taken from the title of a Joni Mitchell song, Jorinde Voigt’s third solo exhibition with Lisson Gallery fuses music and visual art, revealing the artist’s cross-disciplinary and multidimensional approaches to large-format drawing, culminating in a live, immersive performance produced in collaboration with musician Beatrice Dillon. From her organisational systems of scores, notations, chapters and verses to the time signatures, impulse points and rhythmic inscriptions embedded in her drawings, Voigt – who herself trained as a cellist – creates a synaesthetic world through these interrelated compositions.

For her 2017 series Both Sides Now, Voigt depicts a single object turning in space across 10 versions. Part-internal organ, part-abstract concept, the works depict the sensation of being alive and the self-awareness of one’s own heart beating, rather than the muscle or valves themselves. As well as including the temporal and kinetic lines that adorn all of Voigt’s drawn works, the slight shifts in the pastel colours and textures suggest an unknowable entity, while the addition of organic, spreading drips of red shellac ink relate to the branches of a walnut tree that Voigt explored as a child. Another personal connotation hovers over the series Thank You But No Thank You (2017), in which the dark tendrils of black Chinese ink and red acrylic spray paint recall a traumatic experience; perhaps dating from ‘the day before yesterday’ or from ‘tomorrow to infinity’ as the handwritten inscriptions suggest. 

An ongoing major body of work is here represented by Song of the Earth: Divine Territory (2016), the third of a proposed cycle of eight inspired by Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde of 1908-09. Here the symbiosis between sound and vision reaches its zenith in Voigt’s spatially ambitious work, combining five monumental drawings into one symphonic panorama in oil chalk, acrylic, pastel and pencil. Last shown at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin as part of its exhibition, ‘Scores: Works of Music by Visual Artists’ (28 Oct-13 Nov, 2016), this restless landscape is made up of colliding, intersecting and overlapping shapes, each one of which is rotating, expanding, contracting, extending and retracting continuously, according to the lines of notation penned by Voigt. Previous chapters of Song of the Earth have also been shown at Kunstraum Innsbruck in Austria, Manifesta 11 in Switzerland and the Sharjah Biennale in UAE, while the final chapters will be shown as part of the Lyon Biennale in September 2017.

In response to the exhibition, the electronic musician Beatrice Dillon, joined by celebrated cellist Lucy Railton, will create an aural soundscape during a live performance on the show’s final day, 24 June. This collaboration follows previous musical transliterations of Voigt’s work but will here foreground chance, improvisation and rhythmic structures apparent in both art forms.

Comment