David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Tomma Abts at the gallery’s 533 West 19th Street location in New York. Included in the exhibition will be paintings from two distinct but related bodies of work that, in different ways, showcase Abts’s sustained engagement with process and form. This will be the artist’s third solo presentation with the gallery and her first exhibition in New York since 2014.
Abts is known for her complex paintings and drawings, the subject of which is ultimately the process of their creation.
Working in accordance with a self-determined and evolving set of parameters, the artist enacts a series of decisions, which results in compositions that are intuitively constructed according to an internal logic. While abstract, her paintings are nevertheless illusionistic, rendered with sharp attention to details—such as shadows, three-dimensional effects, and highlights—that defy any single, realistic light source. As she has noted, “Making a painting is a long-winded process of finding a form for something intuited … and making whatever shape and form it takes as clear and precise as possible.”1
Image: Tomma Abts, Samke, 2019 (detail)
“This is about inventing an image that had not been in the world. I don’t want it to look like I painted an object. But as I work I get to the point where images make sense to me, and maybe you might recognize something in them. But I can't tell you what that something may be.” —Tomma Abts, 2018
“The paintings are painstakingly rendered and share an eccentric vocabulary of knife-edged straight, arcing, or radial lineation…. Abts has explained that she resolves each painting by passing ‘from abstract, meaning undefined visual ideas, to something concrete.’ Concrete, but hardly static, these paintings crackle; mobile, electric, their forms and tones appear as if momentarily suspended before proceeding to slide past or bump against one another, to dim or brighten.” —Kate Nesin, “Degrees of Relief,” 2018
“At once volatile and precise, Tomma Abts’s work keeps shifting beneath your feet.… The London-based artist’s neat, sharp, labor-intensive paintings … erect optical labyrinths that both tantalize and deceive.… Try as you might, you can’t look away.” —Lloyd Wise, Artforum