Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt
The Wind Blows Where It Will

13th March – 17th April 2021
Anna Schwartz Gallery

The Wind Blows Where It Will’ is Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt’s first exhi­bi­tion in over a decade. Often con­sid­ered enig­mat­ic, her works are excep­tion­al in their abil­i­ty to uni­fy a med­ley of influ­ences into a unique visu­al lan­guage. The sources of her inspi­ra­tion are diverse, a qual­i­ty that is enhanced by the deft man­ner in which she is able to com­bine them, freely incor­po­rat­ing the iconog­ra­phy of his­tor­i­cal art with strik­ing­ly con­tem­po­rary imagery. These new works offer an insight into Shark LeWitt’s most recent mus­ings and devel­op her long­stand­ing inter­est in the ele­ments that con­sti­tute humanity.

Shark LeWitt’s research trip to France and Italy in 2019 has informed many of the con­cep­tu­al under­tones present in The Wind Blows Where It Will.’ Assisi was par­tic­u­lar­ly sig­nif­i­cant, being the birth­place of St. Fran­cis, founder of the Fran­cis­can Order, and St. Clare, his fol­low­er, both of whom were com­mit­ted to a life of pover­ty. The series, Works of Mer­cy (2020), con­sti­tutes 14 paint­ings on the theme of pover­ty, in both the mate­r­i­al and spir­i­tu­al sense.

Indi­vid­ual fig­ures are paired with key objects that denote their respec­tive mer­i­to­ri­ous acts. Detail (coun­sel the doubt­ful) (2020) depicts a man deeply con­cen­trat­ed in thought as he is seat­ed in a swiv­el chair with slip­pered feet. The only oth­er pic­to­r­i­al ele­ments are the lau­rel wreath that pro­trudes from his head and the out­line of a point­ed arch serv­ing to frame the image. All of the Works of Mer­cy paint­ings include this uni­fy­ing fea­ture that is rem­i­nis­cent of Goth­ic archi­tec­ture, echo­ing the instruc­tion­al art­works fea­tured in many Medieval church­es. These works are sparse­ly paint­ed on raw linen and exe­cut­ed with no unnec­es­sary embell­ish­ment, typ­i­fy­ing Shark LeWitt’s pen­chant for sim­ple design. In this instance, the artist has clear­ly rec­on­ciled the con­cep­tu­al impe­tus of the works with their mate­r­i­al form.

Anoth­er group of works belong to The Uni­ty of Oppo­sites (2020) which fur­ther seeks to exam­ine the nature of pover­ty, as well as its coun­ter­part, cov­etous­ness. This is realised in the trip­tych Le Hameau de la Reine (2020) ref­er­enc­ing Marie Antoinette’s desire for a con­trived peas­ant retreat. Detail (red dress­ing gown) (2020) depicts the orig­i­nal item that inspired the phe­nom­e­non known as the Diderot Effect, that of con­sump­tion beget­ting fur­ther consumption.

The under­ly­ing theme of the works in The Wind Blows Where It Will’ embod­ies the fine bal­ance that exists between vice and virtue, depri­va­tion and enrich­ment. My the­o­ry (2018) visu­alis­es this con­sid­er­a­tion in Shark LeWitt’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly droll style, as two cups are drawn and labelled (as a para­phrase) good things and bad things about being poor/​rich”. The depth of mean­ing that can be con­veyed through Shark LeWitt’s for­mal­ly restrained com­po­si­tions is intrin­sic to its allur­ing charm, and offers a lim­it­less source of con­tem­pla­tion for those who seek it. 

Images

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

The Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth, 2020
water based paint on Hessian
trip­tych: 12231 cm; 80.540 cm; 12231 cm
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

The Wind Blows Where It Will, 2021
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

The Wind Blows Where It Will, 2021
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

Works of Mercy, 2020
14 paint­ings, water based paint on linen
6131 cm each
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

The Wind Blows Where It Will, 2021
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

The Wind Blows Where It Will, 2021
Instal­la­tion detail, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

The Wind Blows Where It Will, 2021
Instal­la­tion detail, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

The Wind Blows Where It Will, 2021
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

Saint Clare, 2016
water based paint on linen
7646 cm
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

Le Hameau de le Reine, 2020
water based paint on Hessian
trip­tych: 2621 cm; 5060 cm; 2621 cm
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Vivi­enne Shark LeWitt

Pine Tree, 2018
water based paint on linen
9172 cm
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley