Press Release  November 9, 2020

The Desire for Transparency: Contemporary Artists Working with Glass

Courtesy Galerie Ron Mandos

Hans Op de Beeck, The Frozen Vanitas, 2015.

Presenting colorful glass works from the past five years, The Desire for Transparency: Contemporary Artists Working with Glass offers a curated selection of innovative contemporary artists—Ai Weiwei, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Monica Bonvicini, Amber Cowan, Tony Cragg, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Shahla Friberg, Michael Joo, Misha Kahn, Jim Lambie, Vik Muniz, Kohei Nawa, Hans Op de Beeck, Sung-Won Park, Jaume Plensa, Tristano di Robilant, Laura de Santillana, Judith Schaechter, Thaddeus Wolfe, and Dustin Yellin—who are using glass to address formal and aesthetic concerns that transcend the traditional uses of the medium.

Courtesy Gray

Jaume Plensa, See No Evil, 2018.

Featuring individual pieces and installations from twenty international artists lent by nineteen galleries from the four corners of the world, this special exhibition highlights artists working representationally and abstractly with cast, cut, blown, stained and sculpted glass to create psychological, philosophical and conceptual works of art.

In the representational realm, Ai Weiwei casts his hand flipping the bird at government oppression with candy-colored glass; Monica Bonvicini uses pink Murano glass to take on power structures with her piece Up in Arms; Jaume Plensa constructs a figure that can See No Evil in pure white Murano glass; Michael Joo addresses positions of power with a cast glass velvet rope that’s both open and restrictive; and in sandwiched layers of transparent glass, Dustin Yellin expresses environmental concerns with a collaged figure composed of pollutant imagery rising out of the oceans in repulsive rebellion.

With less social, more poetic issues in mind, Vik Muniz creates a striking self-portrait from cut canes of Murrine glass; Sung-Won Park reflects on the passing of time by existentially envisioning himself as a caged character at Age 53; Judith Schaechter paints a portrait of humanity tied to nature with stained glass; Tristano di Robilant evokes an oracle’s golden tongue by gently stacking beautifully blown Murano glass; Amber Cowan creates her own bit of nature, in the form of a floral still life, from upcycled pressed glass; in The Frozen Vanitas, Hans Op de Beeck creates an icy still life from frosted glass; and Kohei Nawa playfully constructs a pixelated dog from scores of glass balls.

Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

Judith Schaechter, Human Nature, 2016.

And going for the purely abstract, Tony Cragg twists molten glass into a totemic form in Bye Bye (Curl); Misha Kahn adds a glass element to his freestanding organic assemblage; Thaddeus Wolfe packs the red-hot material into a mold shaped from cut Styrofoam; Laura de Santillana folds colored sheets of melting glass into minimal geometric planes in Tokyo-Ga (Rubino - Terra d'Ombria); Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian cuts up mirrored glass to create multi-faceted mosaics; Jim Lambie fuses disassembled sunglasses into freeform stained glass windows; Shahla Friberg uses mirrored and stained glass to construct an imaginary architecture in Dolly; and Shaikha Al Mazrou colors glass in shades of blue to alter our perception when we find ourselves reflected in her tilted planes.

Imagining meaningful metaphors and fantastic forms in glass—precisely at a time when many around the world are demanding more transparency—the artists in this show offer hope on the path ahead. While their works may be formed from materials that are fluid in fire, once solidified they show a world that shines.

Organized by critic and curator Paul Laster and independent curator and art advisor Renée Riccardo for Intersect Chicago, November 6–12, 2020.

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