Intricate patterns, vibrant colours and unusual materials are the hallmarks of New York-based award-winning artist Polly Apfelbaum’s works. In her latest exhibition at the Mumbai Art Room titled Second That Emotion, art connoisseurs get a chance to see all this and much more in her creations. However, unlike de rigueur paintings that adorn the walls, Apfelbaum's works are sculptural and two-dimensional compositions that use diverse kinds of textiles, raw pigment powder, sequins, unfired polymer and plasticine modelling clays.
Small-scale sculptures called the Feelies sit on a table-top in grid formation, while a large cloth in pink and yellow titled Ombre stretches out across the floor. What makes Apfelbaum’s works different is the optimal stimulation as well as the varied interpretations that one can have while watching her works. The most common associations that come to mind are building tiles, indoor carpets and children’s crafts. At the same time, these works have roots in the many formal traditions of abstract painting, and the industrial appropriations and fabrication methods of Minimalist art.
Apfelbaum explains, “For the Ombres, I worked with a found structure: each piece follows a specific manufacturer’s colour series, or readymade colour progression. I play at once on the rich, emotional associations of colour and the readymade structure. I am interested in pop and the everyday: repetition, reiteration and routine. I like ordinary, cheap and slightly tacky materials. Materials that you would not normally associate with art making.”
Describing the Feelies, she wrote in a gallery press release last year of their “sense of immediacy, as opposed to the durability and permanence that always seems to me to be signified in painting. There is a focus on possibility and process as opposed to an end point. I think of it as automatic abstraction, a negative abstraction, more open, based on chance, creating order within even haphazard circumstance.”
However, unlike the usual art exhibitions that are titled after the artist’s works, Second That Emotion, springs from the image used for the exhibition poster of two Mumbai kids flashing peace signs during the 2011 monsoon, while standing outside the Mumbai Art Room. It simultaneously refers to R&B singer Smokey Robinson and the US pop band Miracles’ song from the ’60s, I second that emotion, and reiterates the fact that the artiste invites the audience to reaffirm the exuberant abstraction that awaits them when they walk in the door.
When: Till April 20, Tuesday-Saturday, 11-7 pm
Where: Mumbai Art Room, Pipewala Building, Colaba