Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Middletown, United States 06 Sep 2022 - 16 Oct 2022
Renee Gladman, Untitled, wind and pink, 2019. Courtesy of Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery
THE DREAMS OF SENTENCES exhibition is the largest solo presentation of Gladman’s drawings to date bringing together many larger-scale works which she has developed alongside recent publications.
Renee Gladman (b. Atlanta, Georgia, 1971) is a writer and artist preoccupied with crossings, thresholds, and geographies as they play out at the intersections of poetry, prose, drawing, and architecture. Her visual work regards the drawing space as a kind of laboratory for thinking about writing: how writing emerges from the body, how narrative moves and takes shape below the semantic level. She is the author of three collections of drawing-writing—Prose Architectures (2017), One Long Black Sentence (2020), and Plans for Sentences (2022)—as well as many works of fiction, essay, and poetry, including Calamities and the Ravicka series.
Rather than focus on depicting or representing an external world, Gladman has developed a practice that attempts to present an interior space. The works on view in THE DREAMS OF SENTENCES arise from that space, building outwards from a point originating as much from Gladman’s experience of being and moving through the worlds she creates as from the boundaries interior to the page itself.The results are images, but not ones that necessarily adhere to the obligations of representation nor abstraction. Their lack of conformity with the conventions of pictorial space creates another kind of volume, a temporal space, a feeling of future.
Many of the drawings in THE DREAMS OF SENTENCES are on black paper, which is a physical and metaphoric ground and becomes the backdrop against which her marks are seen. Fred Moten refers to it as,“The blackground: that nonrepresentational capacity that lets all representation take place.” In Slowly We Have the Feeling: Scores, a grouping of 20 small drawings on black paper, gradients of pastels fade in and out of the background. Gladman points to their latency for musical performance by naming them, scores. Lines that emerge from blackness describe emanations that point towards future realizations, broad horizontalities that extend beyond the edges of the drawings, the pages, the frames.
Over the years Gladman has experimented with adding more color to her mark-making, and with drawing at a larger scale, moving up from ~9″×12″ to as large as 30″×44″.As her drawings increase in size they lose their direct relationship to the printed pages of a book and, by association, are abstracted from reading. Viewing them framed in the gallery, we look across space at them, rather than down as at the pages of a book. Yet, Gladman’s larger works still conjure a reading space. They call to the viewer, create a desire to be read, and simultaneously defer that desire, resolving back to image. Though there is overlap between reading text and viewing art, often these processes are thought of as separate, or their conjunction goes so unconsidered as to immediately collapse. Gladman’s drawings generously offer possibilities at the edge of these definitions, allowing us to view language and/or read art, or maybe possibilities where the verb, itself, becomes irrelevant.
The space of our awareness of a syntactical interior is the space of Renee Gladman’s work. THE DREAMS OF SENTENCES, her first solo exhibition, is an opportunity to see her drawings in a three-dimensional space, to travel the edge of drawing, writing, language, and the lines between. The drawings are the dreams of sentences. The drawings will dream of sentences. The space of this dreaming is in some place adjacent to both drawings and sentences, and its becoming allows for the composition of new structures building worlds, the undifferentiated possibilities of living, of futurity, of life itself.