David Zwirner is pleased to present new sculptures by American artist Carol Bove (b. 1971) at the gallery’s Hong Kong location. Spanning two floors, this exhibition marks the New York–based artist’s fourth solo presentation with the gallery and her first in Asia. The exhibition follows her participation in this year’s Venice Biennale, which featured a focused selection of recent work, and a two-person exhibition currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Known for works that incorporate found and constructed elements with a unique formal, technical, and conceptual inventiveness, Bove stands as one of the foremost contemporary artists working today; her work has consistently challenged and expanded the possibilities of formal abstraction. As Johanna Burton notes in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, “The artist mines the expressive potential of materials and encourages different narrative events to emerge… Her works carry historical references and the history of the material themselves, yet her output is arrestingly singular.”
For this exhibition, Bove expands upon her ongoing series of “collage sculptures,” compositions of various types of steel, begun in 2016. These works are characterized by square steel tubing that has been crushed and manipulated, painted in vibrant color, and variously combined with found pieces of scrap metal and, often, a smooth, highly polished steel disk. Playing with surface texture and pushing the limits of steel’s physicality, the artist’s new work continues her exploration of form and process, including folding and crushing steel into more complex compositions and rendering the material with an almost fabric- or clay-like, supple finish.
Image: Installation view, Carol Bove: Ten Hours, David Zwirner, Hong Kong, 2019
“These works... contain a lot of force. The stainless-steel elements, the tubes, are manipulated through force, but the force is very carefully and slowly applied…. The resulting power you see in the work can be very tender. I haven’t gone out of my way to make it seem hard to generate these manipulations; in fact, I want them to look as if I did not use all available force, so that the touch appears very light and soft.” —Carol Bove in conversation with art historian Johanna Burton in the exhibition catalogue, forthcoming from David Zwirner Books
“We use a hydraulic press to start bending and massaging the tubes, and then we pull the bends closed using a chain-hoist system. Through this process of manipulations, the geometry of the steel becomes very complex, making the tube seem more like fabric, or something with a softer texture…. In the end the labor is invisible.” —Carol Bove in conversation with Johanna Burton
“We think stainless steel is hard and strong, and I’m wondering if this is really the case. Is there a gentle and persistent way to act on it so that it will behave differently? Can it be tricked into showing a different side? Under what conditions is it soft and supple?... I also imagine a mirror effect on perception, where the material’s plasticity acts on the imagination. What we know about the material is contradicted, so maybe our grip on reality should be a little lighter, too.” —Carol Bove in conversation with Johanna Burton
“I think about an exhibition as a complete statement. I think about the viewer’s progression through the space. You see one thing after another, and you enact a certain dance as the views unfold in a particular sequence. I try to anticipate these sequences and play with them so that there are reveals and surprises, encouraging the viewer to stand in different parts of the room and feel the room in different ways…. To my mind, it’s perverse to be working in formalist abstraction in 2019. But… there’s actually a lot more space in there than I thought possible, and finding that space is a way of opening the world.” —Carol Bove in conversation with Johanna Burton