Michelle Grabner – Again, Working Yesterday

We invite you to visit the second exhibition in the new virtual space of the gallery:


Again, Working Yesterday

The exhibition features ten new paintings that continue Grabner’s thirty-year dedication to repetition and pattern painting by utilizing indexical devices, reiteration, and copying. Juxtaposed with these paintings is a selection of bronze sculptures cast from a variety of crocheted textile blocks. Again, Working Yesterday debuts a new video by Grabner that also abandons the actions that capture attention. The video perpetually frames an Umbrian landscape through a set of red gingham curtains and decorative iron fencing. Untitled (2021) is a stabilized, non-moving composition comprising three discrete cultural signifiers (gingham, the grid, and the Italian landscape) that reflect on the virtues of “end-stopped attention.” Influenced by Forms of Poetic Attention (2020), a text written by Lucy Alford, Grabner’s work champions Alford’s observations that “limiting boredom to the modern post-industrial context… fail[s] to recognize its longer-durée history, achieved in a ranging lexical wake that includes malaise, lethargy, sloth, melancholy, acedia, horror loci, the noonday demon, and taedium vitae. Isolating boredom to a single vacuum-sealed set of historical conditions short-circuits our ability to consider this longer range of philosophical and poetic approaches to what is, in fact, an essential condition in human world perception and the experience of time, as suggested by the writing of Seneca and Catullus, as well as the Desert Fathers, up through the work of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Heidegger.”

The framed paintings placed in the virtual gallery created by Oppenheim Architecture are light and layered in shades of white, light gray, light yellow and a touch of red or blue. They arouse a desire to approach and discover the texture, patterns and soft shades, to compare one to another. As we meander through the space whose seamless technology and niches allows us up-close and detailed inspection of each painting individually, a peaceful atmosphere is palpable, inciting quiet meditation.

The original sized cast bronze sculptures as well as their enlarged virtual counterparts are interspersed in the space. While viewing the sculptures from all angles and distances, shadows, light, weaving and casting details become more apparent. The slight nuances in the pattern, differences in weave, wear and tear, handwork particularities and gravity add to the movements in an otherwise still and pristine space. As the 2021 sculptures are cast, a larger made to order sculpture can be commissioned for site specific use, as is represented in the first bay on the right upon descending the stairs or ramp.

One small sculpture has been exposed to the elements and obtained a turquoise blueish patina, reminiscent of those on antique objects.

Grabner’s use and reuse of objects initially created to provide warmth and comfort (crocheted blankets) are intriguing in their new reiteration as either painted or sculptural objects. The source material is identifiable and reproduced on a flat support or as the core for the sculpture. Transposition is a key part of her practice. The technological advances and capabilities of Urban Art Projects (UAP) also allow the made to measure creation of larger sculptures or site-specific installations based on the original cast. Merging photometry and visualization technologies provided by The Boundary and UAP’s process allows us to consider newer opportunities and remove obstacles in creating monumental installations.

For this exhibition, the bathroom has been renovated by Michelle Grabner to include tiles and painting patterns developed during a residency at John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The Space, created by Oppenheim Architecture, features a library setting in Andermatt, in the Swiss Alps. The painting in that space adds to the reflective atmosphere and mountain setting, contrasting with the summer Tuscan scenery seen in the video in the main space.

Michelle Grabner (b. 1962) is an artist, writer, curator and teacher who lives in Wisconsin. She is the Crown Family Professor of Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicagowhere she has taught since 1996. Brad Killam and she founded The Suburban in Oak Park, IL in 1999 and The Poor Farm in 2009. Exhibitions are hosted on a regular schedule in both venues. She was named a 2019 National Academy of Design’s Academician, and in 2021 she was named aGuggenheim Fellowby TheJohn Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Again, Working Yesterday is her 4th exhibition with the gallery. Her works are in numerous museum and private collections, including Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, DE; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, OH, Bates College, Lewiston, Lewiston, ME ,Dallas Museum of Art, TX, Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, WI, Milwaukee Art Museum, WI, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, RISD Museum, Providence, RI, Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY; USA; MUDAM – Musée d’Art Moderne Luxembourg, LU; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.