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What You See Is What You Get

Günther Förg

Spencer Lewis

Giorgio Griffa

Betty Parsons

Austyn Weiner

Mike Henderson

Tariku Shiferaw

Xiyao Wang

Pam Evelyn

Lily Stockman

30.06.2022 | 29.07.2022
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MASSIMODECARLO is pleased to announce its next group exhibition, What You See Is What You Get, running from June 30th to July 29th, 2022 at Casa Corbellini-Wasserman in Milan and from July 5th to 30th in Paris, at MASSMIODECARLO Pièce Unique.

This exhibition is the third chapter in the gallery’s investigative series on painting throughout history. Following MCMXXXIV (1934) in 2019 and Portraiture One Century Apart in 2021, What You See Is What You Get brings together a curated selection of works by ten artists across generations, backgrounds and mediums, to address the state of abstraction today.

Artists Pam Evelyn (b.1996 Guilford, UK), Günther Förg (1952 – 2013), Giorgio Griffa (b.1936 Turin, IT), Mike Henderson (b.1954 Independence MI - USA), Spencer Lewis (b. 1979 Hartford, CT - USA), Betty Parsons (1900 – 1982), Tariku Shiferaw (b.1983 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Lily Stockman (b.1982 Providence, RI - USA), Xiyao Wang (b. 1992 Chongqing, China) and Austyn Weiner (b.1989 Miami, FL - USA) are brought together for the first time, creating a series of dialogues between these multiple, coexisting iterations of abstraction.

As Roberta Smith noted in a 2010 article for the New York Times: “it is worth remembering, when considering the ever-expanding definition of abstract art, that the term refers to the act of abstracting from reality”. The exhibition’s remit is indeed two-fold: on one hand, it is an invitation to take a step back from reality, guided by these artists’ practices, on the other, it aspires to take a step further into understanding abstraction, which seems to elude the boundaries of a single, timeless definition. As each one of these ten artists finds their singular form of expression in abstraction, the variety of shapes that this results in is as exhilarating as it reveals its complexity.

Mike Henderson’s multidisciplinary career spans across music, film and abstraction. Placing texture, form, and color at the heart of his compositions, the works presented in What You See Is What You Get exemplify the “instinct for improvisation” that underpins his production across mediums. A similar instinctive mark-making process is at the heart of Austyn Weiner’s gestural abstraction. Drawing on the intensity of contradicting sensations, Weiner creates large scale, fluid doodle-like compositions that process subjectivity, rejection, isolation and performance. Spencer Lewis’ work on the other hand is less about combining sensations as it is about pouring himself physicality into the canvas: his visceral, textured works are the result of an intentionally painstaking creation process. Pam Evelyn shares this approach to creation, letting each one of her works find its own shape, sense and composition, in an almost instinctive elaboration process that verges on a subconscious approach to painting.

Xiyao Wang is similarly concerned with translating her personal energy onto the canvas. Her ethereal large-scale compositions convey a sense of calm which is nevertheless highly informed by her awareness of the tension between her moving body in relation to the stillness of the canvas.

Lily Stockman, who shares a light pastel color palette with Wang Xiyao occupies the canvas in a completely different manner: her full, symmetrical, organic shapes translate her fascination and concern with structure and organizing principles – notions that interestingly, and with a very different result, are also a cornerstone in Tariku Shiferaw’ geometric abstraction, who offers an understated comment on these very societal structures, and their invisible influence on our individual experience of reality. In his own words, “a mark, as physical and present as cave-markings… reveals the thinker behind the gesture— an evidence of prior markings of ideas and self onto the space.”

From Betty Parsons, who’s contribution and support of abstract expressionism cannot be understated, to Gunther Forg’s conceptualism all the way to Giorgio Griffa’s large-scale, quasi-calligraphic works on linen, What You See Is What You Get seems to indicate that ultimately, abstraction is as informed by each artists’ notion of reality, as it is a means to evade it, taking on the form of each one of its creators. As the title of the exhibition itself suggests, there is nothing more on each canvas than “what you see” – and yet what “you see” when you look remains as multiple, open, and individual as it is... mysteriously abstract.