Gallerynote 6/2002

November 29, 2002 to March 1, 2003

Retrospektiv III:
Sylvia Plimack Mangold – James Bishop Works, 1969 – 2002

Reflection, recollection, retrospective – concepts poorly suited to the priorities of the art business these days, given the way it has become overtaken by the incessant hectic flurry brought about by the trance of the immediate present. If today is already not enough and can at best be taken as a view looking out toward tomorrow, then the reminder of another time horizon could be easily mistaken as affectedly fussy presumptiveness.

Yet now here we have a case that is something of a special one. This gallery has lived out a life at this location, one that it would also like to continue living. The substance, profile and vitality of the gallery are largely attributable to the artists, who for their part can justifiably claim a life's work. Many have been partners over the years and decades, while others have recently found their way to the gallery and decided they feel at home. All have gained visibility here and known from experience this typically requires a substantial investment of time. The artists have built up their work over many thresholds of time and the gallery is pleased to have been able to accompany and support them.

In 1976, the gallery first showed the works of American painter James Bishop, who was born in 1927 and currently lives in France. His works wonderfully evoke the sensual quality of a skin of paint, a spot of paint. The large works from earlier years, the intimate and precious paintings on paper seem to have almost arisen from themselves, infrequent and deliberate. Those able to sense the corporeality of painting see these values of a great tradition again embodied with validity here.

Sylvia Plimack Mangold
(b. 1938) has been represented by the gallery since 1978. She too has never abandoned the terrain of painting. The fruitful self-questioning of painting in the 1960s, coming after a peak of American abstract art, constitutes the starting point for her work. For her, abstraction and representationalism do not appear as antipodes with absolute exclusivity. Soon she finds her own conceptual approach, a type of abstract interpretation of representationalism. The work gains presence solely in that the painting ultimately possesses its own autonomous reality. Painting consists of countless actions, decisions, definitions informed and satiated by one's own knowledge and that of others, by one's own experiences and those of others. The painted subject – since the 1980s most often trees near her home – is transformed by the painter in a long and intensive work process, in some cases before the motif, and put onto the surface. The lively color structure and color matter eradicates all that is schematically pre-known. The finished painting offers the eye a field of rich and nuanced visual experiences.

The retrospective show presents pieces from various work phases by both James Bishop and Sylvia Plimack Mangold.


ARCO Madrid from February 12 to 18, 2003. The Gallery is one of the invitated Swiss galleries. Switzerland is the guest country at this ARCO. You are welcome.