Wendy White: Low Relief
Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Low Relief, New York-based Wendy White’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. The artist will present two new bodies of work: the After Calder series and a group of new epoxy resin floor sculptures. Also on view will be a large-scale mobile situated at the entrance to the gallery.
The exhibition’s title, Low Relief, takes on a double meaning: as an art term, it relates to low relief in sculpture, yet it also suggests a release from anxiety or distress. In confronting these two concepts at once, White lays out a visual landscape that is both peaceful and jarring, foreign and familiar.
White’s After Calder works—framed canvases with suspended sculptures attached—ask the viewer to reconsider what constitutes a painting by challenging art historical conventions of representational artworks as solely a space for illusion. Inspired in part by Alexander Calder’s prototypical works from the late-1930s, each piece juxtaposes an atmospheric surface with a suspended sculpture, expanding the traditional notion of “focal point” into three dimensions. Adding to the sculptural presence of the paintings, museum-style floor risers have been installed throughout the gallery, designating a controlled viewing distance as well as reflecting light back onto the work. This serves as a tongue-in-cheek reference to high-modernist presentation and the elevating of objects in an institutional context.
In all of these new works, White combines iconic elements of her visual language, including gestural abstraction, pop culture symbology, and sculptural adaptations to painting. Through this recontextualizing of her signature artistic gestures, she furthers a core objective of her work: to push against the limitations proposed by conventional, image-based painting, which she finds creatively stultifying. As we recognize these elements as belonging to the artist’s distinct visual lexicon, we are also presented with a new, hybrid experience of her creative practice.
Suspending her signature black Dibond sculptures against grainy, raw canvases airbrushed in muted sunset palettes, White creates deep and shallow space simultaneously. Her sculptural symbols conjure various meanings: cut-out rain clouds suggest weather patterns; pixelated hearts are stand-ins for accumulated lives in video games (or perhaps likes to online content); and rainbows take on the optimism of a sky finally clearing after a storm. Presented in matte black and pared down to their formal essence, each symbol remains quietly suspended between real and painterly space.
White’s new free-standing sculptures riff on Alberto Giacometti's attenuated figures. Yet, while she adopts Giacometti’s stylized texture, she eschews the human figure, choosing instead anthropomorphized peace symbols in various states of action and rest: transience, walking toward an unknown destination, relaxing, and lying on the floor. In animating such a ubiquitous symbol, the artist calls attention to both the mutability of symbols and our collective ennui in making sense of them.
By juxtaposing tactile sculptures with contrastingly clean, minimal paintings, White underscores her ability to translate nuanced emotions across various forms and materials. The works in Low Relief continue a decades-long exploration of art history and pop culture symbolism—both in critique and homage—suggesting that there are no new marks, only new combinations.
Wendy White (b. 1971, Deep River, CT, Lives, and works in New York, NY) received her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design. Institutional group exhibitions include Low Pressure at Museum Goch, Germany; The World’s Game: Fútbol and Contemporary Art at Pérez Art Museum, Miami (2018) and LACMA, Los Angeles (2014); Full of Peril and Weirdness: Painting as a Universalism, M Woods, Beijing (2015); Globe as a Palette: Contemporary Art from the Taguchi Collection, Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art (2019); The Art Show: Art of the New Millenium in Taguchi Art Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan (2016); Taguchi Hiroshi Art Collection at The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu, Japan (2015); American Idyll at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2018); EXPEDITION at The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (2021); and So Athletic, Kunstverein Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin (2012).
Wendy White is the recipient of the Teiger Mentorship in the Arts at Cornell University (2019), a Painting Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (2012), and a George Segal Painting Grant (2008). Her work was featured in Phaidon’s anthology Vitamin P2: New Perspectives in Painting (2011) and has been reviewed in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Artnet, Time Out New York, Modern Painters, ArtNews and BOMB Magazine, among others.
In 2021, White completed a site-specific mural at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, St. Louis. The artist’s works are in the permanent collection of Detroit Institute of the Arts; The High Museum; RISD Art Museum; Museum Goch; Kranzberg Art Foundation; Saks Fifth Avenue; Taguchi Art Collection; UK Art Museum; Mercedes-Benz Stadium; Savannah College of Art & Design; UBS Art Collection; Progressive Art Collection; Jimenéz-Colón Collection; The Shinola Hotel; Tulip Collection; Rocket Mortgage Field House; Detroit Pistons Practice Facility; Southern Poverty Law Center and ARCO Foundation.
Wendy WhiteCloud and Rainbow (after Calder), 2021Acrylic on canvas, wood frame, steel, cotton rope, dibond61.25 x 48 x 8 in
Framed: 61.25 x 50 x 8 in
Wendy White, Sunset (Dripping), 2022
Wendy WhitePleasure! (after Calder), 2021Acrylic on canvas, wood frame, steel, cotton rope, dibond61.25 x 48.25 x 9.5 in
Framed: 79.75 x 48.25 x 9.5 in
Wendy WhiteFog Cloud (after Calder), 2022Acrylic on canvas, wood frame, steel, cotton rope, dibond48 x 63.75 x 9.5 in
Framed: 48 x 66.25 x 9.5 in
Wendy WhiteDrop II (after Calder), 2021Acrylic on canvas, wood frame, steel, cotton rope, dibond61.25 x 48 x 9.5 in
Framed: 80 x 48 x 9.5 in
Wendy WhiteRainbow (after Calder), 2022Acrylic on canvas, wood frame, steel, cotton rope, dibond48 x 63.75 x 9.5 in
Framed: 48 x 66.75 x 9.5 in
Wendy WhiteAirless (Cloud and Rainbow), 2021Acrylic and flocking on canvas, dibond105.5 x 72 in
Wendy WhiteLow Relief (Walking), 2022Wire, wood, epoxy resin, enamel25 x 27 x 9.25 in
Wendy WhiteEventide, 2021Acrylic on two canvases, dibond72 x 72 in
Wendy WhiteLow Relief (Alone in Public), 2022Wire, wood, epoxy resin, enamel61 x 26 x 11.25 in
Wendy WhiteMobile (Peace), 2021Dibond, steel, epoxy resin, powder coated steel chain, cotton rope, hardware, LED96 x 96 in (variable)
Wendy WhiteLow Relief (Relaxing), 2022Wire, epoxy resin, enamel5 x 16 x 12 in