A detail from painting by Harold Ancart, called Untitled, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Traveling Light

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by the Belgian-born, New York–based artist Harold Ancart at the gallery’s 525 & 533 West 19th Street locations in New York. This presentation marks the artist’s second solo show with David Zwirner following his 2018 debut at our London gallery. 


On view in one gallery space will be a new series of paintings that depicts trees. These works were painted between Ancart’s Brooklyn studio and a makeshift outdoor studio in Los Angeles, which he traveled to during lockdown. Pointing to references as varied as René Magritte, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Piet Mondrian, who approached this subject matter in distinct ways, Ancart’s tree paintings blur form and color, figure and ground, and figuration and abstraction.
 
In the adjoining gallery space, there will be two multipanel canvases that situate the viewer between a mountain-scape and a seascape, both monumental in scale. 


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In an effort to support Galleries Commit and a climate-conscious future, the carbon footprint of this exhibition was calculated with the assistance of Atelier Ten and offset through a vendor that invests in reforestation, forest conservation, and sustainable forest management. This fully offsets the 31.54 tons of carbon produced by the exhibition. To learn more, please click here.

 

The galleries are open to the public with a limited number of visitors allowed into the exhibition spaces at a time, in accordance with city guidelines.

To schedule your visit to this exhibition, please click here.

To learn more about the enhanced safety measures currently in place at this location and others, please click here.

 


Image: Harold Ancart, Untitled, 2020 (detail)

Dates
September 10October 17, 2020
Artist
An installation view of an untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
81 1/8 x 113 1/8 inches
(206.1 x 287.3 cm)
An untitled sculpture by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart, Untitled, 2020

Harold Ancart, Untitled, 2020

An untitled sculpture by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.
Installation view, Harold Ancart, Untitled, 2020
Installation view, Harold Ancart, Untitled, 2020
An untitled sculpture by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart, Untitled, 2020

Harold Ancart, Untitled, 2020

“It is a very strange time to think about traveling, and it is a strange time to think about freedom. I didn’t conceive the exhibition this way, but I guess meaning always catches up with you. I am opening this exhibition, Traveling Light, at a time when no one travels.… But there are always means of transportation, and I think painting is very much one of them.”

—Harold Ancart

“What I like about this room is that it puts you exactly where you want to be, between the mountain and the sea.… There are a million ways of painting the sky, and there are a million ways of painting the sea for a very simple reason: the sky is always different and the sea also is always different.… This allows the paint to take its own direction, to wander.”

An installation view of a painting by Harold Ancart, titled The Mountain, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart, The Mountain, 2020

Harold Ancart, The Mountain, 2020

An installation view of a painting by Harold Ancart, titled The Mountain, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart, The Mountain, 2020

Harold Ancart, The Mountain, 2020

An installation view of a painting by Harold Ancart, titled The Sea, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart, The Sea, 2020

Harold Ancart, The Sea, 2020

An installation view of a painting by Harold Ancart, titled The Sea, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart, The Sea, 2020

Harold Ancart, The Sea, 2020

Harold Ancart next to his multipanel mountain painting, in 2020.

“I actually did conceive the exhibition as a walk.… I think it is very important, as a painter, that you can wander freely through paint. And I think it is very important as a viewer that you can wander equally freely through it. You don’t need to know where you are going.”

An installation view of the exhibition titled Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

An installation view of the exhibition titled Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
106 1/8 x 116 1/8 inches
(269.6 x 295 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
99 1/4 x 137 1/4 inches
(252.1 x 348.6 cm)

“The forest is composed by trees that are perforated by light or the sky. I had the first idea of painting trees while driving through France on a very sunny day.… I could see through the actual trees, the light traveling in a pretty spectacular way.”

An installation view of the exhibition titled Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

An installation view of the exhibition titled Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

“There is physical presence to the paint itself.… What matters is that the light actually travels from one painting to another. For me, what defines the success of a great painting exhibition is when the light starts flying and traveling through the room.”

An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
80 1/8 x 96 1/8 inches
(203.5 x 244.2 cm)

“When you look at a picture, you are ultimately traveling into another dimension, which is a painterly dimension in which everything is possible. Which means that, ultimately, there is not one way of looking at painting, but constellations. I like the idea that people can wander freely and get completely lost in the contemplation of an artwork.”

An installation view of the exhibition titled Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2020.

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

Installation view, Harold Ancart: Traveling Light, David Zwirner, New York, 2020

An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
76 1/8 x 101 1/8 inches
(193.4 x 256.9 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
99 1/4 x 137 1/4 inches
(252.1 x 348.6 cm)

Painters, philosophers, and explorers alike have long shared a fascination with the sublime—that which exceeds the outer edges of understanding, the yet known and charted. Staring upon the infinite horizon lines of the land and sea, voyagers of ages past embarked into these unknowns, propelled by a common restlessness, a wanderlust, a desire to go places no one else had witnessed.

If there is one quality immediately evident upon meeting Harold Ancart, it is that same restlessness, the telltale energy and curiosity of the journeyman. The son of a flight attendant, Ancart spent his earliest days traveling in planes by his mother’s side, peering out of windows onto vast territories below. From a bird’s-eye view, he developed an abstracted relationship to the shapes and colors of the land beneath him, static forms glimpsed from oblique angles, while in motion.

These childhood experiences created a lifelong traveler out of Ancart, who struggles to this day to remain in one place for too long. Resistant to capture, he is drawn to ideas, places, and things that embody and encourage a feeling of freedom. He works as he lives: he addresses each canvas as if he were a flaneur, his final direction unplanned. He marches about, making decisions as he goes, drawn by the attractions of the terrain he paints from memory and the encounters he finds there.

Ancart chooses subjects in his work that grant him infinite compositional possibilities, emblems he returns to again and again, rendering them each time anew, changed, with their own respective mood, arrangement, and palette. Be it a tree or the infinitely receding horizon, his focus on scenes from our lived environments prompt potentially endless contemplation. His subjects are often elemental and eternal things, direct and familiar, which invite sustained looking, both by himself and his viewer.

An irony of this exhibition is that while the subjects featured in it are notionally calm, solid, and meditative, the works were each conceived very much in action, originating in a car. While driving on a French highway at a breakneck clip, Ancart became aware of the trees lining the highway in his peripheral vision. They formed a visceral impression, defined by speed and movement that was at once concrete and ethereal. De Kooning’s phrase “I’m like a slipping glimpser” comes to mind: the paintings of trees that Ancart subsequently made, in generously applied oil stick on large-scale canvases, re-create the sensate impression of that experience, making the transitory eternal. The subjects are cropped, almost indistinguishable, while the dense array of colors of the leaves, bark, and surrounding sky bleed into one another, creating an arresting blur.

In 2014, Ancart bought his first car as a US resident—a black Jeep Grand Cherokee—and set out from New York across the country. He converted the trunk of the car into a makeshift studio and along the way he painted twenty-seven small-scale paintings, which now belong to the Menil Collection in Houston. Most were painted en plein air. As always with Ancart’s work, the subjects are simple—a pine tree, a billboard, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty... Together these paintings map a line across the North American continent, tracing Ancart’s journey from New York to Los Angeles and his return through the Southern states. 

For a man who has always wandered in the pursuit of speed and freedom, this year’s lockdown presented numerous challenging constraints. Staying indoors for months on end is not an activity well-suited on its surface for a restless traveler such as Ancart. But if this moment’s restrictions appeared to him at first as obstacles, they ultimately served as detours, pointing him instead toward a different, less explored route. Forced inside, Ancart’s artistic practice became his means of travel, a portal to the world otherwise shut down. The act of painting meanwhile became a daily reprieve to channel his own restlessness, each work a meditative exercise in locating and feeling freedom on the canvas, where it was elsewhere precluded.

Inquire about works by Harold Ancart

An installation view of an untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
81 1/8 x 113 1/8 inches
(206.1 x 287.3 cm)
An untitled sculpture by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick on concrete

3 x 49 3/8 x 75 inches
(7.6 x 125.4 x 190.5 cm)

A painting by Harold Ancart titled The Sea, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

The Sea, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
Triptych
Each: 106 7/8 x 112 7/8 inches
(271.5 x 286.7 cm)
Overall: 106 7/8 x 358 5/8 inches
(271.5 x 910.9 cm)
A painting by Harold Ancart, titled The Mountain, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

The Mountain, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
Triptych
Each: 106 7/8 x 112 7/8 inches
(271.5 x 286.7 cm)
Overall: 106 7/8 x 358 5/8 inches
(271.5 x 910.9 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
99 1/4 x 137 1/4 inches
(252.1 x 348.6 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
80 1/8 x 96 1/8 inches
(203.5 x 244.2 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
99 1/4 x 137 1/4 inches
(252.1 x 348.6 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
76 1/8 x 101 1/8 inches
(193.4 x 256.9 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
101 1/8 x 111 1/8 inches
(256.9 x 282.3 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
101 1/4 x 111 1/4 inches
(257.2 x 282.6 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
106 1/8 x 116 1/8 inches
(269.6 x 295 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
106 1/8 x 116 1/8 inches
(269.6 x 295 cm)
An untitled painting by Harold Ancart, dated 2020.

Harold Ancart

Untitled, 2020
Oil stick and graphite on canvas in artist's frame
80 1/8 x 96 1/8 inches
(203.5 x 244.2 cm)

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