Sarah Rapson: Paintings

January 05, 1995 - February 11, 1995

Yoshii Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by the British artist Sarah Rapson.

Rapson’s current work has done away with the tar surfaces and cryptic inscriptions of her previously exhibited works. She has forgone pitch blacks for muted white tones reminiscent of paper, milk, yogurt, bed linens and porcelain. A quietude has settled into Ms. Rapson’s work, emphasized repeatedly┬áby muted surfaces, subtle details and a modest monumentality.

As a poet Eileen Myles writes in the accompanying catalog, “Underneath the surface of her big white paintings there are leaves moving, like a park or something. There’s two big white ones pressing together like twin beds. I’ve never seen white paintings seem like such things. Not things about white or paint or austerity, but things about silence.”

Working with layers–paper, bed linens and rubber variously mounted on wood panels and stretched canvases–Rapson has created paintings with strong sculptural qualities. The panels and canvases are often stacked and piled on top of one another or placed side by side creating dimensions which must be viewed from various angles.

Inspired by time spent in her native London, the work often refers to specific places and sights: “I saw this house by the side of the river (Cold Harbour) and its walls were torn out. You could see its wallpaper. I thought of it as art. It was this completely decayed place.” Eden Vale, painted with house paint on bed linen, refers to a brand name yogurt and recalls a sense of home: “These are sheets she points out and looking closely at the painting’s edges you see the faint blue lines of its trim. Some place there’s a scorch which implies ironing board. It’s not an ironic attempt to aestheticize domestically, but a lumpily awe-inspiring job.”

Observing these autobiographically mute, formally understated and quietly prescient paintings, Eileen Myles is compelled to ask, “Is it possible for paintings to feel like something’s rubbing from inside?”