An Artist at Home on the Fault Lines

“Originally I was thinking about the material, how to make something that does not bend seem as flexible as paper,” Ms. Saban, 36, said in her lilting Argentine accent. “But looking back I see a connection to earthquakes — the way they cause city streets to buckle or a floor like this to crack.”

And the earthquake imagery is not the only thing connecting Ms. Saban’s work to the studio’s past tenants. She is regarded as one of the heirs to their droll conceptual art tradition, even as she edges into sculptural territory with her concrete pieces, their marble counterparts and other tactile thought-experiments.

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Detail of a 2017 painting in which Ms. Saban wove together linen thread and strings made of dried acrylic paint.

Credit
Elizabeth Weinberg for The New York Times

“Her work is on this tipping point between the conceptual and the material,” said Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Even when the work has this rigorous procedural quality that translates into language, your first response is simply wonder. How did she bend that stone?

“We’re all watching to see what she comes up with next.”

Lacma already owns 17 of her works. She is also represented in the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the most visible of private collections: those of Cindy and Howard Rachofsky of Dallas, Don and Mera Rubell of Miami, and Maurice and Paul Marciano in Los Angeles, whose inaugural show features three of her pieces. The critic Christopher Knight of The Los Angeles Times called her a “standout” of that show for making “inventive use of traditional materials.”

Ms. Saban received her first museum survey in September from the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston. A fitted bedsheet loosely draped over a large canvas, it turns out, was actually made out of acrylic paint. A perfect facsimile of a white cotton hand towel? Just paper.

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A detail of “Pleated Ink, Staircase With Landing” (2017), laser-sculpted paper on ink on wood panel.

Credit
Elizabeth Weinberg for The New York Times

The survey showed her testing the limits and uses of art history’s media — paint, canvas, ink, marble, much as her contemporaries Walead Beshty and Wade Guyton expose the inner…

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