Vija Celmins, “Blackboard Tableau #14,” 2011-15. The waves entirely fill the printed surface. Vija Celmins’s Untitled (Ocean) (1977) is a drawing not only of water, but of breeze and sunlight, too — a vignette of our planetary arrangement. Japanese artists perfected woodcuts, or woodblocks, around the 8th century A.D., starting out as religious texts for Buddhist temples or royal commissions. Her modestly sized pieces evoke the greatest vastness. Neither the large painting nor the smaller charcoal here read as negatives of the nocturnal. Although small in scale, the piece on display in Making Waves captures a sense of the depth and density of a vast ocean. This oceanside environment would also become her artistic muse. Your email address will not be published. Her meticulous compositions are known for incorporating, almost exclusively, black, white, and grey, and this allows the viewer to become completely lost in the detail. To find out more, including which third-party cookies we place and how to manage cookies, see our privacy policy. Courtesy of Met Breuer. Vija Celmins, American, b. Latvia 1939,Untitled, 1995,Wood engraving,Purchase, 1995 (25605), © Vija Celmins, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. The copy held by ARTIST ROOMS is artist’s proof number 3/12. In the case of the blackboards, both the found and the fabricated are artifacts of intimate experience. Courtesy: Matthew Marks Gallery, LA, © the artist. Vija Celmins’ 1992 woodcut, Ocean Surface, brings forth a feeling of peace and relaxation: one can hear the ocean waves, swelling and receding, and feel the warm sun, cooled by a calm breeze. In a new body of works on view at Matthew Marks Gallery, Celmins’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in almost ten years, the inscrutable effects of her images remain a continued source of fascination. To scrutinize them for clues as to which is which is to get ensnared by the how, the technical agility at play, and to relegate the artwork to the status of solvable puzzle. Her goal, through all of her visual tools, is to dispel the idea that nature is romantic, sublime, and inherently capable of inspiring awe. At Matthew Marks Gallery, LA, recreations of natural topographies display a singular relationship to time and observation. Discussing her reuse of the ocean motif across many years and various works, Celmins noted: ‘The ocean image is one that is part of me and that I try to do every now and then with a new sensibility or process. After earning her MFA from UCLA, she kept a studio in Venice, California, going on long walks by the ocean, taking photographs and keeping a diary of her observations. The image gradually shifts from the darkest, foreground waves at the bottom edge to the lightest and smallest at the top of the plate, with the image receding perspectivally as the picture plane tilts upwards. After a rebound, the storied studio is facing a string of challenges during the pandemic. See all of our latest articles at latimes.com/arts. How can a line on paper embody a feeling? Celmins is noted for creating intensely realistic renderings of the natural world. Vija Celmins, “Blackboard Tableau #14,” 2011-15. Is it really necessary to shut down L.A. County? The set was printed by the Cirrus Press, Los Angeles and published by the artist. Treating graphite and paper as inextricable, Celmins creates a relationship between the two that forms an ongoing conversation, as if texture and tonality could speak a language of their own. Celmins worked from a photograph she took of the ocean, calling it an “alternative subject” of her work. VIJA CELMINS: TO FIX THE IMAGE IN MEMORY May 4 – August 5, 2019 “I like to work with impossible images, impossible because they are nonspecific, too big, spaces unbound.” —Vija Celmins, interview from 1995 Artist Vija Celmins (VEE-a Sell-muns) was born in 1938, in Riga, Latvia. Listen to Bad Bunny’s new surprise album, ‘El Último Tour del Mundo’, Bad Bunny’s surprise new rock-inspired LP follows his Grammy-nominated album “YHLQMDLG.”, What’s on TV Friday: ‘Great Performances’ Lea Salonga on PBS, What’s on TV Friday, Nov. 27: “Great Performances” Lea Salonga in concert on PBS, Need uplift this holiday? Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints. At James Bond studio MGM, questions mount about the company’s direction. Celmins’ works are exactingly detailed and appear to record everything precisely sans exaggeration within a prescribed field of vision—as a camera would do. As a result, while she has technically subverted the traditional definition of a sublime landscape, Celmins’ skill brings the feeling back for her audience. While one may not find this print of ocean waves awe-inspiring, per se, it is romantic in that it evokes a strong emotion – that of peace. Her ability to manipulate such simple elements of wood and ink is some of the most precise in FWMoA’s collection. Get the best of Magazine in your inbox monthly. The tool is held in much the same way as a pencil.’ (Ibid., p.50.) I also did something admittedly clichéd: I thought of the ocean, imagining my breaths as waves. Imagery that Celmins has mined for decades prevails: Edge-to-edge excerpts of rippling ocean and star-flecked night sky. A 2014 charcoal drawing of the same subject also nods to a more modernist articulation of the picture plane: its image of ocean waves is entrapped in a grid of crosshatch marks that interrupts the water’s seamless depiction. For almost half a century, Vija Celmins has painstakingly recreated the natural topography of desert floors, ocean waves and night skies with stunning precision. Get Carolina A. Miranda's weekly newsletter for what's happening, plus openings, critics' picks and more. Ocean: 7 Steps #2 is a running sequence of seven variations on the same image. Vija Celmins. It is a landscape-oriented print on a large portrait piece of paper, with a double margin around the image – both a plate mark from the printmaking process and a separate border. Whether they capture the undulating waves of an abysmal sea or the infinite distances of the Milky Way, Celmins’s works do not simply showcase the artist’s ability to replicate nature, but rather her meditations on the nature of aesthetic mediation. Allowing myself to expand into the vastness of the sea, I could feel the water’s skin ripple across my eyelids. Her works continue to resonate because they suggest that the power of artistic representation hinges not on the possibility of absolute likeness, but on a slow and incremental understanding of difference. Looking happens over time and across space, and this work certainly necessitates slow looking. Born in Latvia, artist Vija Celmins fled to Germany in 1944. The rectangular section of ocean in this print is presented anonymously, with no indicators of geographic location, weather conditions or time of day. Depicting the miniscule, epidermal cracks of an old leather book cover in her library, the painting’s tactile intimacy is redolent of Celmins’s work from the 1960s, when she focused not on nature but on the quotidian effects in her studio: a fan, a hot plate, a heater. Vija Celmins, Blackboard Tableau #9, 2007–15, one found object and one made object: wire, alkyd oil, and pastel on wood, each 38 x 26 x 1 cm. You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times. For those who could use some happy stories to carry you onward, here are 11 products of the pandemic for which we’re thankful. L.A. outdoor dining ban survives challenges as COVID-19 outlook worsens. Feedback: ‘Walk in our shoes, Sia.’ The call to use actors with autism, Readers share opinions of “Hillbilly Elegy” and its cultural epithet, Sia’s casting choice for an autistic character and eyewear in Pixar’s “Soul.”, New L.A. County ‘Safer at Home’ restrictions revealed as COVID-19 surge worsens. This one occupies both Matthew Marks locations and concentrates on recent work — paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture. It is precisely that I reinvent it in other terms,” Celmins once said. Mezzotint is also direct, meaning that neither requires an etch before printing.’ (Quoted in Rippner 2002, p.30.) These delicate images perform a shrewd kind of formal seduction: behind them lies a singular, profound relationship to time and observation. The curator Neville Wakefield has considered this facet of her practice: Within the extensive group of prints by Celmins in ARTIST ROOMS there are two other works that utilise the ocean motif, and perhaps even the same source photograph as the starting point for the printed image.

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