How Many Minimalists Does It Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?
New works on paper by David X. Levine
4 O’Clock Light is delighted to present the first exhibition in Germany of works by the New York-based artist David X. Levine. The exhibition takes place from 8 April to 3 June 2017 in a private apartment in Hamburg Eimsbüttel.
Levine works exclusively with colored pencils on paper, and creates intense color field drawings – often on a very large scale – whose surfaces have a vibrating or pulsating quality. Levine achieves this effect by “erasing” the elements that we would normally associate with drawing: there is no visible line, no easily discernible mark-making, no evident process. Instead, we are confronted with highly finished object-like works that belie the very labor-intensive process Levine uses, and draw our attention back to the particular richness of the medium.
Levine’s abstract compositions are precariously balanced. Imagine balancing on a seesaw with someone and that short moment of being suspended in equilibrium. Collapse is imminent – it could teeter in either direction. Levine’s drawings remain in this state of suspension ad infinitum, just like Richard Serra’s large steel sculptures that seem about to collapse at any moment but never do.
In his most recent series, How Many Minimalists Does It Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?, Levine has created a group of 6-ft drawings in which large grey monochrome color fields are juxtaposed with a silly joke. The same joke is repeated in different iterations in all the drawings in the series. The effect of the work might simply be a knowing smirk from someone familiar with Dan Flavin’s light installations were it not for the ridiculously intense and labored surface of the drawing, which, combined with the absurdity of the joke, produces an unmistakable, seductive visual tension. Levine creates careful compositions, balancing the phenomenological effect of the large grey monochrome color field with the cerebral-ness of the joke. As Levine puts it, “To use something so OBVIOUS & LOUD and make it have subtlety is a joyful challenge for me.”
David X. Levine was born in Boston in 1962, and has been living in New York City since 1998. In 2015 the Sherman Gallery at Boston University presented an exhibition of Levine’s work, The Beatles are Dull and Ordinary. His exhibitions include solo shows at Steven Zevitas Gallery in Boston, Eight Modern in Santa Fe, KnowMoreGames in Brooklyn, Tony Wight Gallery in Chicago, and Dust Gallery in Las Vegas, as well as group exhibitions at Spencer Brownstone in New York, and Honor Fraser and Cherry Martin, both in Los Angeles.
4 O’Clock Light is a gallery for contemporary art founded in 2017 by Diana Perry Schnelle. Its goal is to bring international contemporary art to Hamburg and support contemporary artists by exposing their work to a wider audience. Exhibitions are held in a domestic setting in a private apartment in Hamburg Eimsbüttel near Schlump.