23. mars - 31. juli 2012

The American artist Amy Adler will be exhibiting in the Nøstetangen room between 23 March and 31 July 2012. The exhibition will showcase the work ‘Director’, which is a series of twelve pastel drawings completed in 2006. Since the beginning of 1990, the Los Angeles-based artist has worked in the exciting interface between photography and drawing.

DIRECTOR 2006
The American artist Amy Adler will be exhibiting in the Nøstetangen room between 23 March and 31 July 2012. The exhibition will showcase the work ‘Director’, which is a series of twelve pastel drawings completed in 2006. Since the beginning of 1990, the Los Angeles-based artist has worked in the exciting interface between photography and drawing. She first became famous for questioning the relationship between an original and copy, a legacy she inherited from artists of the 1980s, such as Sherrie Levin, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons. Her method of doing this was to produce drawings based on photographs, either self-portraits, portraits of anonymous people, of friends or of famous film actors. These drawings were then photographed. She would then destroy “the original drawing” and would exhibit the photograph of the drawing as a unique work. Only one photographic impression would be made, therefore only “the original” would remain after this three-stage procedure. The work involved in these three stages of the visual process made her particularly sensitive to the changing surface character of the images. The first photograph and the subsequent drawing each had their own surface qualities and in the remaining photographed drawing these two qualities were combined into something completely new and unusual. It was probably this interest in the qualities present in the surface that prompted her to begin drawing with pastel on canvas in about 2005. This was an unusual combination and the meeting of the pastel crayon with the rough surface of the canvas weave created a distinctive expression. Amy Adler saw this as an extension of the use of the frottage technique by the surrealists, in particular Max Ernst, where a pattern emerges by rubbing color pigment over a rough surface. In Director, the lines and color fields become partially white, partially light grey (silvery) and everything is given a shimmering, semi-transparent appearance. By employing such an unusual, hybrid drawing method the artist insists on a uniquely compact and physical medium, i.e. a departure from the previous method: motive-photograph-drawing-photograph, where the very character of the media becomes distorted and combined.

She employs either a photo-realistic approach or a freer method, as one would do when tracing an image in a magazine, for her drawings. Adler draws with a high degree of simplification and economy. The figures are formed with an innovative precision and simplification. In the Director series she has omitted all of the background and “deeply-etched” the figure with the camera, a method employed by book designers and advertising people to emphasize the iconic form of an object. The only thing she has included is the sharply outline shadow of the figure, the result of the sun in southern California, which in turn was one of the reasons that the film industry began filming in Hollywood and Burbank.

Even though she produces drawings based on photographs and still frame and simplifies in a way that is essentially impersonal, Adler has managed to create a wonderfully characteristic visual language. This shows that despite the fact that she works on and adapts known visual forms and mass media structures, there is a lot of room for an individual hand and an individual look. This individual look is seen not least in the Director series. As the figure is isolated in the visual field and actively acts with the camera, we can see how the visual dynamics of a film are dependent on the physical positioning of the director in relation to the scene that is to be filmed. She moves focus from the result to the origin of the result, that is to say the director’s influence on the film, which we do not see. But in doing so we instead made aware that the visual artist is in this instance also a director of images. The young woman with the camera becomes a representative for the young artist with a camera and pastel chalk poised before the easel. Here we see a shift of focus, a method she has already employed in the series Young Photographer, in which a young boy uses Adler’s first camera in her study of the potential infinite number of images in the outside world. Not just the eyes are used to see, but gestures and movements of the whole body are also used. The motif provides the viewer with visual impulses to which the viewer (whether a still photographer or a film photographer) physically reacts. We can almost say that the photographer becomes the “film” or the “photographed”, i.e. “the light symbol” of the motif. The new physical situation in which the filmer finds him or herself, influenced by the possibilities of the motif, in turn influences the camera angle and the excerpt that is filmed. The series Phantom Instrument, where the drawings depict a female musician playing an instrument but where the instrument has been omitted from the image, shows that this is an important theme to Adler, where movement and form are conditional on something we cannot see. An awareness of the dynamic, dialogic relationship between motif and filmer/director can in turn influence the way in which we as the audience perceive these large drawings. Motif and camera holder become mutually choreographed.

Behind this work of art (and in particular the Director seri