Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is pleased to announce the opening of Intimate Immensity, an exhibition of work by El Anatsui, Lynda Benglis, Chakaia Booker, Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Alexis Granwell, Fabienne Lasserre, Brie Ruais, Michelle Segre, Joan Snyder, and Sun You. Intimate Immensity will be on display in the School of Fine Arts Gallery from February 12 to April 7.
Intimate Immensity presents work dealing with touch, materiality, the sensual, and the subversive. Whether in object or image, the works in the show engage with the abstract vocabulary of the psyche, the body, memory, mythology, and the decorative. Organized by Alexis Granwell, the show features work by contemporary sculptors, selections from PAFA’s newly-acquired Brodsky Center archive, and rarely-shown works from PAFA’s museum collection.
As Bea Huff Hunter writes in her essay for the exhibition, the work of these 11 artists is cast as feminist: collective, restorative, experienced by many folk, and so, so bodily. The tactility of folds, wrinkles, lumps, curves, dots, and twists sends me back and forth in a sort of sensual conversation between my body and the “bodies” of many of the works.
Brie Ruais’ work explores the force of the body in her large, painterly, ceramic sculptures where clay is torn, spread, and pressed. The amorphous, freestanding, and hanging works by Fabienne Lasserre create a sci-fi and fantastical feel, acting as windows and voids with their fragile, limb-like frames. Alexis Granwell’s biomorphic sculptures incorporate handmade paper, wood, and concrete, referencing ruination of built structures and the body, suggesting an unearthing of the past and geological time.
The four artists included from the Brodsky Center archive highlight the visceral elements of handmade paper: El Anatsui’s semi-transparent Kozo work echoes language, pattern, and textile with its seams, folds, and wrinkles that feel almost skin-like; Lynda Benglis’s wrought, bold sculptures layer paint and gold-leaf on chicken wire wrapped in Abaca, capturing the shifting topography of a figure or landscape in motion; Joan Snyder’s muscular and brightly-colored paperwork seamlessly layers pulp and petals with her complex and expressive painting vocabulary; and Chakaia Booker’s multi-layered paper sculpture explodes from the wall, creating a feeling of entropy, with a deconstructed form based on shapes from a ripped tire.
Michelle Segre’s playful assemblages weave together various materials, including yarn, thread, fan parts, and a saw, building immediacy and a sense of transformation as the total of these items becomes more than its parts. Sun You’s delicate small-scale sculptures juxtapose fashion accessories, industrial materials, and knick knacks, suggesting vulnerability and slow unraveling. You’s works hang gently from the wall and are displayed as a collection on a low hand-painted table. Judy Chicago and Louise Bourgeois, two prominent sculptors and iconic feminist artists, directly point to the lineage of the exhibition, celebrating artists that collaborate with their materials in inventive abstractions.