Dallas Contemporary presents the first U.S. institutional exhibition and inaugural presentation of significant new work by artist Helmut Lang.
Helmut Lang creates enigmatic sculptures through skillful mutations of form, volume, light and the material history of objects. His pieces explore and explode the fertile space between abstraction and figuration. BURRY features a new body of work that centers on the transformation of sheepskin. Sheepskin is traditionally used as a soft material that provides warmth. Lang intervenes in its core properties, hardening it into thick, bed-like planks. In these forms, the original or intended use of the material is retained only as a memory. Pieces are large, rectangular and installed in varying orientations. Some lie on the floor and others are attached directly to the wall, but most lean on it, creating a sense of hovering between supported and self-sufficient, between painting and sculpture. The works’ rectilinear outlines crisscross the space, delineating x, y and z axes, drawing attention to the space’s interior volume. This is one of several markers of Lang’s acute ability to make the viewer aware of his own relationship to the space and the work within it. Another is in the tension between the works’ heft and its method of installation: the weight of the pieces is apparent and foreboding, perhaps warning us to keep back, but their positions are precarious and fragile, inviting close and delicate looking. In that close looking, viewers discover that the coats of tar and pigment that harden the sheepskin also create alluring, textured surfaces. Near or far, viewers will sense the works’ relationship to the human scale. Here again, Lang forces a physical relationship to the sculptures, creating the sense of being addressed by—even implicated in—them.
Born in Vienna, Austria in 1956, Helmut Lang lives and works in New York. His engagement with art started in the mid 1990’s, when he collaborated with Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Holzer. Lang has devoted himself solely to his art since 2005 and has exhibited since 1996 in Europe and the United States. Lang has exhibited, among others, at the Florence Biennale, Florence (1996); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (1998); The Journal Gallery, New York (2007); kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2008); The Fireplace Project, Long Island (2011); Schusev State Museum, Moscow (2011); Mark Fletcher, New York (2012); Deste Foundation, Athens (2013); and Sperone Westwater, New York (2015).
The exhibition is curated by Peter Doroshenko, Executive Director of Dallas Contemporary.