L&M Arts is honored to present a solo exhibition by Liza Lou, her first in New York since 2002. Liza Lou first gained attention when her monumental work Kitchen was shown at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, in 1996. This sculptural tableau introduced her unique and trademark medium of objects and environments overlaid with glass beads, while simultaneously establishing many of the social concerns that underpin her work. The formal beauty of her beaded environments is often haunted by a mood of injustice or violence, and this mix of seduction and menace gives her work extraordinary power.
The exhibition will reveal the new levels of technical mastery and thematic complexity that Liza Lou has developed over the past three years while living and working in South Africa. Tower is a large-scale structure of latticed steel constructed of cage-like sections, every inch of its grid wrapped in white beads, the tower extending upward thirty feet through the center of the gallery. Coil (Black 1) is a mile-long rope woven entirely out of cotton and bone-white beads. With their emphasis on repetition, formal perfection, and materiality, each of these works partakes in the legacy of minimalist art. These sculptures thrive on the tension between the apparent impossibility of their construction, the seductive beauty of their surfaces, and the sinister implications of their subject matter. Tower is an ethereal cage that seems to rise into infinity, while Coil has a ritualistic air suggestive of coercion.
The show will also feature a remarkable new series called Reliefs. These densely layered panels, each one unique, readily bring to mind the Muslim prayer rugs on which they are partly based, while being reminiscent of topographical maps of cities, abstract art, and mysterious altars. Relief (Plan, Prepare, Execute), for instance, is a large-scale panel covered in over four hundred and fifty pounds of soot-black beads of various sizes, each one carefully balanced on their tips to create ridges and valleys arranged in a precise geometric pattern. The dark magnificence of the work and the pleasure we might find in the orderly patterns and textures is offset by a mood of palpable threat. Relief (Offensive/Defensive) has an even surface of mesmerizing, vibrant color overlaid by an organic black pattern, as if the object itself were stained by a creeping mold or corrosive liquid. The Reliefs show an artist deeply engaged with her medium, pushing it in new and astonishing directions to create work of quiet, confident beauty while simultaneously highlighting the religious and geo-political tensions that mark our present age.
The show at L&M coincides with the exhibition of Maximum Security Fence, a major new sculpture on view from September 24th at the Lever House (390 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022)