Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present A Thought Sublime, a group exhibition featuring works by Pier Paolo Calzolari, Martyn Cross, Molly Greene, Jay Heikes, Sheree Hovsepian, Wanda Koop, William J. O’Brien, and Thiago Rocha Pitta. Shown together, the works on view present a range of perspectives on one’s position in the cosmos, offering meditations on recent paradigm shifts within our shared world. A Thought Sublime will be on view June 17 - August 6, 2021 at the gallery’s 507 West 24th Street location in New York.
The title of the exhibition references a poem published in 1848 and sonnet of the same title, “I Am”, both written by English poet John Clare. The poems, both melancholic in their descriptions of loneliness and alienation, also reflect the complex experiences of existence through vivid imaginings of the author’s desired escape by way of nature and the heavens. A Thought Sublime is drawn from a line in the sonnet “I Am” that reads:
“I was a being created in the race
Of men disdaining bounds of place and time:
A spirit that could travel o’er the space
Of earth and heaven — like a thought sublime”
The works on view reflect on these sentiments, offering deeply contemplative and wistful introspections. At times, the artists rely on modes of alchemy and the transcendence of natural materials. Jay Heikes presents a painting from his Mother Sky series, wherein the artist depicts cloudy skies in vibrant and extraordinary colors. Before screen printing clouds and applying paint onto the surface, Heikes stains the canvas using a combination of vinegar, salt, and powdered pigment. As they react, these substances generate unpredictable hues to form the artist’s tempestuous vistas. Similarly, Pier Paolo Calzolari captures ephemeral states with his use of commonplace and organic materials, such as salt, lead, fabric, and feathers, as a means to explore states of matter, transience, light and beauty.
Among the works on view are themes of connectedness between the body, the mind, the earth and the universe. Sheree Hovsepian, acclaimed for her intimately constructed photographs and collages, presents recent assemblage works. Here, the artist layers photographs of organic lines and shapes, including imagery of the body, with ceramic fragments to navigate a heightened consciousness of one’s own subjectivity. Molly Greene likewise confronts the bodily, the natural, and the mechanical in her paintings. Greene creates surrealistic, mirrored imagery of flora and fauna that blur the boundary between natural and unnatural, questioning our systems of identification.
Otherworldly and rich imagined environments are notable throughout the exhibition. Thiago Rocha Pitta, known for his temporal and sensitive body of work that engages with the natural world, presents a series of new watercolor works that portray subtle transformations in abstract scenes of the earth, sea, sky, and beyond. Paintings on view by Martyn Cross similarly evoke timeless and folkloric scenes of nature, displaying the undulating waters and meditative currents of unfamiliar lands. Wanda Koop, who deftly explores the intersections between urbanization and the environment, presents paintings of surrealist landscapes that alternate between the real and the imagined, compelling closer examination of Koop’s familiar yet alien worlds. Central to the exhibition is a new ceramic work by William J. O’Brien, whose work employs rich material experimentation. Titled earth, water, fire, wind & space, pt. 1, the work is an adaptable installation that serves as an offering to Mother Nature. The installation examines the strengths of multiplicity, of connection, community, and strength in numbers, and the power of the space in-between, offering the ability to dream again.