June 2017_by Federica Tattoli
Featured in the show is the monumental new work Life of Forms, a painting comprising four parts that combine to be 427 x 488 cm (14 x 16 ft). It is her largest work to date. While towering in size, it continues to invite the same intimacy of material and attention that define her paintings. It must be seen in person to be understood.
Often Provosty creates groups of paintings with related images and a shared name. Dream Sequence is one such body featured in the exhibition, and the companion paintings Valley and Peak. Experiencing of these paintings is taking part in their fluidity: shapes slide into one another and dialogue through resonances, echoes, and chromatic & conceptual references.
Provosty’s art leads to an immediate overall seduction, followed by a deeper immersion into the surface and forms. Through visual observation and physical absorption, the viewer may tune into each painting’s deep harmonics, evoking other works—by the artist and the history of art—as well as subjective experiences of life itself.
Nathlie Provosty’s works are a hymn to painting, a declaration of love and devotion to art itself as a form of life.
What is painting for you and why did you choose this media?
Painting is transformation: solid particles become liquid and then solid again, but in a new form. The particles are very basic, stone and metal combined with light and mind in order to create experience. Sometimes art occurs. The pursuit of that resonating intersection is endlessly challenging and therefor interesting, particularly when considering its thousands of years of history.
I prefer painting to other mediums because it escapes the dogma of duration and is wide open—it lends itself to independence of thought and communicates on multiple levels simultaneously. And it’s physical.
Your relationship with colors…
My relationship to color is a relationship to light, to vibration, sound, mood, and full-body sensation… I love color.
Could you describe me in five words your exhibition Life of Forms at Apalazzo Gallery?
Life of Forms describes everything.
How would you present your work?
Natural diffused light is ideal, and plenty of open space.
Where do you make your works?
In the studio.
What can’t be missing from your worktable? (can you send a photo?)
A collection you wish at least one work of yours was part of?
The Menil in Houston. I know there are many wonderful collections in Europe and the world, so this list could be long.
A museum where you’d like to have an exhibition?
Where to begin? Really I’d like to work with a curator who is involved with cyclical time, who has the sensitivity to observe appearances, and subtly. As Oscar Wilde said, “It is only superficial people who do not believe in appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible not the invisible.”
The market or your need to express?
Lightness or depth?
Day or night?
The need to think in terms of dialectics is long gone. We live in a polyphonic spectrum of complexity, misunderstanding, desire, and longing. Contradiction and paradox are natural and confusing. This exhibition is filled with color wheels, images of narcissus, clocks, mirrors, numerology, gravity, eroticism, myth, flatness, space, etc. In reproduction they look formal, which they are not; they are forms. Even atmosphere is form.
A question you’ve never been asked but one you’ve always wanted to answer? Answer that question…
Could you briefly describe one of your latest works?
Afterimage, finished on June 5, 2017, is a 96 x 106 inch (243.8 x 134.6 cm) painting on two panels. The curves are spliced and flipped, and are submerged in fields of white that press in on irregular, dark shapes. It reminds me of a Horace Pippin painting I saw many years ago. The word afterimage means a “visual sensation occurring after the external stimulus causing it has ceased to operate.” It is a response to (or recovery from) Life of Forms.
What are you reading?
The Dream Colony by Walter Hopps (Edited by Deborah Treisman, from interviews with Anne Doran; Introduction by Ed Ruscha).
Just watched Capote on the flight. What an astonishing actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was. What a terrible loss. I once was at an Anthology film Archives benefit event with Jonas Mekas, in 2010 for the 40th anniversary, and Hoffman walked up to the table to introduce himself to Jonas. He said, “I am honored to meet you. What a beautiful man you are.” That was an incredible interaction I will never forget. But I’ve been meaning to read Capote, and now I will.
Where would you like to live?
Where I live now, in Brooklyn.
Do you have reference artists? Artists you’d like to work with?
I admire many, many artists. I tend to work alone, but am interested in certain poets and musicians who I could envision collaborating with.
A project, related to art, that you’d like to do?
I don’t think in terms of projects. Actions build, spread and are borderless.
If you weren’t an artist, what job would you like?
An unimaginable question.
Let’s imagine a group show. Who would you like to exhibit with?
Christine Sun Kim and Harry Bertoia (his sound sculptures). Jo Nigoghossian,
Sanya Kantoravsky, Velasquez, Noguchi. De Kooning, an Egyptian fayum portrait, N. Dash, Marsden Hartley. Nicole Wittenberg, Guston, Dieter Roth early works, Mika Rottenberg. Robert Ryman, Bill Traylor. Em’kal Eyongakpa, Elizabeth Murray, Yuji Agematsu. Raoul De Keyser, Silvia Plimack Mangold, Cycladic votive figures. Darren Bader, Piero della Francesca, Fred Sandback—wouldn’t that be a crazy show? I think I’d like to put some Minoan dolphin frescoes in there somewhere…
Yes or no to curators? If yes, who would you choose?
Honestly I don’t know that many curators. Maybe it’s because the work is still fairly underground, or maybe it’s that the work is not theme-oriented. It’s situated more between words. I wonder if there is a young generation of curators that are passionately obsessed with certain works and want to know them from the inside out? Probably. And meeting them will fall to the mystery of timing.
A dream of yours?
To wake up.
Nathlie Provosty (b. 1981) is a visual artist based in New York. Provosty has had one-person exhibitions at Nathalie Karg Gallery in New York (2016), Diet in Miami, Florida (2013), and 1:1 in New York (2012); and mounted a project with Jablonka Maruani Mercier Project Space in Knokke, Belgium (2015); recent group shows include the American University Museum (Washington, DC), Kate Werble Gallery (NY), Inside Out Museum (Beijing), the American Academy of Arts and Letters (NY), among others. In 2013 she collaborated with the musician Bryce Dessner on his debut solo album Aheym with the Kronos Quartet, providing the album artwork. Her first image/poetry collaboration The Color Mill, with the legendary New York School poet Robert Kelly, was published in 2014 and reprinted in 2016; Berlin-based Distanz published the first book on the artist’s work, also in 2016. Works are represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (NY), Baltimore Museum of Art (MD), Colby Museum (ME), Farnsworth Museum (ME), and the Rubell Family Collection (FL).