Berlin 00:00:00 London 00:00:00 New York 00:00:00 Chicago 00:00:00 Los Angeles 00:00:00 Shanghai 00:00:00
members login here
Country / State

Almine Rech Gallery Paris: WILLIAM J. O'BRIEN || JOEL MORRISON - 9 Jan 2014 to 15 Feb 2014

Current Exhibition

9 Jan 2014 to 15 Feb 2014

Almine Rech Gallery Paris
64 Rue de Turenne
T: +33 (0)1 45 83 71 90
F: +33 (0)1 45 70 91 30

William J. O'Brien, Untitled, 2011
41 x 45.7 x 22.9 cm

Artists in this exhibition: William J. O'Brien, Joel Morrison


January 9 - February 15, 2014 / Paris
Opening Thursday, January 9th, 2014
5:30 - 8:30 pm

Almine Rech Gallery is pleased to announce ‘The Lovers’, the first solo exhibition by William J. O’Brien in France.

Prior to a major survey exhibition of the young American artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, this exhibition brings together a series of ceramic sculptures made between 2008 and 2013, and a series of new works on paper. This exhibition reflects the diversity of mediums and themes found in O’Brien’s work for almost ten years.

William J. O’Brien is part of the return to ceramics in contemporary art, seen over the last ten years with artists such as Rosemarie Trockel, Thomas Schütte and subsequently taken on by a younger generation of artists. His ceramic sculptures reflect the extent of his vocabulary by developing complementary or opposite forms: they oscillate between matt and gloss, between anthropomorphic shapes with smudges and drips; as well as geometric abstraction reminiscent of Calder. The shaping hand always present, there is a primitive element that immediately stands out – whether referencing the grinning masks of the South Pacific or the plastic qualities found in the culture of native Americans. For O’Brien this is not an identity issue nor a tribute to a native history: the artist was born in Ohio, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, so his use of primitive forms is more akin to Picasso, Paul Klee or the Surrealists; taking an oppositional stance relative to a cert ain automated sophistication of form found in many artists of his generation. O’Brien’s ceramic practice skillfully plays with this return to primary expressionism (it is curious to note that the artist was an instructor at a center for the mentally ill), a representation of the human sometimes flirting with the grotesque, but presented on pedestals made by the artist, an institutional device that is simultaneously perfect and ironic. This primitive and modernist dual heritage is also an important anchor in teaching at the Art Institute and on Chicago Art, which shapes the sensibilities of such artists as Nancy Spero or more recently Sterling Ruby. Indeed, one of the first group shows to introduce O’Brien was “Modern Primitivism” at the Shane Campbell Gallery in 2009. The Lovers affords us the possibility to understand the extent of his expression, both sensitive and informed.

Born in 1975 in Eastlake, Ohio, William J. O'Brien lives and works in Chicago. Recent and important exhibitions include The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS, 2012); Works on Paper at SHAHEEN Modern and Contemporary Art (Cleveland, Ohio, 2011); and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago (Chicago, 2011). The artist's first major survey exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago in January 2014.



January 9 - February 15, 2014 / Paris
Opening Thursday, January 9th, 2014
5:30 - 8:30 pm

“A raw reality that remains supple by being lubricated or oiled with a kind of sarcasm.” – Franz West

For his second solo exhibition at Almine Rech Gallery, Los Angeles-based artist Joel Morrison presents a new body of stainless steel assemblages. An unwavering conceptual framework is fused with everyday objects and encased in seamlessly refined exteriors. Through flawless surfaces and impeccable fabrication, Morrison effectively lubricates the raw and, at times, gritty, underlying reality in his work.

Oscillating between high and low, minimalism and abstraction, order and chaos, Morrison reaches a global audience through undeniable craftsmanship while maintaining his subversive integrity. Found objects that are organic, tangential and seemingly arbitrary are enhanced into exalted roles. The stitched pattern on the blanket of New Madrid reveals the same pattern of a Frank Stella painting from 1961. A common French pastry is reoriented on a neoclassical bust as a croissant mustache bearing an unlikely parallel to Southern Californian Hispanic “cholo” culture.

Everyday objects like anvils, corncobs, studded jackets and tin foil are cast in various metals. Utilizing a medium that is often associated with monochromatic, cold and rigid aesthetics, the artist contradicts this initial interaction by enveloping the work in perfect, mirror polished surfaces. The viewer is immediately tethered to the work, with a personal interaction and intimacy. The colors from hair, clothes and other surrounding environmental elements are instantly absorbed. Though cast in a staunch and unyielding material, the work is constantly revitalized by its influx of viewers and surroundings.

The refined surfaces of the artworks allude to a team of specialized fabricators and technologically advanced machines creating the works, as opposed to the physically demanding, painstaking and analog process by which the artist’s hand is literally involved in every step of the process.

Born in 1976 in Seattle, Washington, Joel Morrison lives and works in Los Angeles, California. In recent years he has taken part in several exhibitions, including Six Solos at the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, Ohio, 2011); the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art (2006); and at the Gagosian Gallery (Hong Kong 2012, New York 2011, Beverly Hills 2008). His work was also shown in the Project Room of the Santa Monica Museum of Art in California in 2003.

Follow on Twitter

Click on the map to search the directory

USA and Canada Central America South America Western Europe Eastern Europe Asia Australasia Middle East Africa