March 2–6, 2016
Park Avenue Armory
Park Avenue at 67th Street
New York City
Van Doren Waxter | 11R Eleven Rivington is proud to present spray painted works by Hedda Sterne (1910-2011) and Mika Tajima (b. 1975). Emphasizing the origins and potential of this appropriated industrial technique, the presentation draws from series by Sterne and Tajima in which spray paint is vital to the expression of two different, if not contrasting, visions. The focused presentation features historic Hedda Sterne material from the 1950s from the Hedda Sterne Foundation, which is represented by Van Doren Waxter; and new paintings on Plexiglas made by NY-based Mika Tajima, who is represented by 11R Gallery.
A Romanian immigrant and member of the first generation of the New York School, Hedda Sterne became one of the earliest artists to adopt commercial spray paint, using it to suggest the motion inherent in the subways and highways of 1950’s New York City: the artist's 1955 canvas titled "New York, NY" was highlighted in the Whitney's opening exhibition "America is Hard to See." In these historically significant paintings, which date from the early to mid 1950s, Sterne’s sources of inspiration, namely, New York City’s scale, structure, and speed, find their expression in both the gestural immediacy of the spray technique and in the intense, blurry quality of the medium itself.
By spraying acrylic enamel on the interior of Plexiglas boxes, Mika Tajima creates bold chromatic paintings which function independently as well as within a diverse practice that takes site, industry, and the body as its major themes. In contrast to Sterne's aggressive, restless images, Tajima’s gradients are tranquil and contemplative: Furniture Art, an ongoing series, derives from Erik Satie’s Furniture Music, an experimental series of compositions designed as ambient music, and by subtitling each piece with a city that resonates with the color palette (Abidjan, Kuwait City, St. Helena), Tajima invokes notions of travel, leisure, and the faraway. Though the pieces are wall-mounted and resemble canvases in their shape and size, the Plexiglas container ultimately insists on its sculptural quality. Through Tajima’s attention to transparency and opacity, reflection and surface, and the cast shadow of the box, her paintings incorporate and activate their supporting wall.