Amy Sillman, “Platypus,” 2009, oil on canvas, 85 x 90 1/2″.
In ArtForum Joanna Fiduccia reports that during Amy Sillman’s residency in Berlin, she produced a zine that included images plus text excerpted from writing by David Joselit, Ad Reinhardt, and Francis Ponge. In addition, she included a section of notes, diagrams and text she wrote herself.
“Over the past decade, Amy Sillman has built a reputation on a lively palette and bold chops, proceeding intrepidly into the twenty-first century without the common armor of irony. This year found her in Berlin on residency, where she had a breakthrough in mediatory if not painterly terms: To accompany new paintings and ink drawings exhibited in ‘zum Gegenstand,’ Sillman produced a zine with images and excerpts drawn from such sources as David Joselit, Ad Reinhardt, and Francis Ponge, as well as a lucid and candid text by the artist and an additional section of notes and diagrams. The latter runs through the figurative elements in the paintings alongside their abstract referents, from “an arm with a small roll of fat under it, and one breast” (equated with ‘psychodynamic splitting’) to a phallic amputation (with commentary alluding to ‘blocked energy . . . the two-ness of body/uncanny made into a stumped one-ness’).
“In ‘Platypus’ (all works 2009), one such limb extends over a butter-yellow ground, abutting a pair of moss and teal rectangles and beaming down lavender spume. In place of a crotch is a canary-yellow scribble, which in Sillman’s terms corresponds to apophasis––the logic of the figure defined by an act of negation. The bluntness of this gesture calls attention to the subtlety of others, which trade pictorial depth for shifting transparent fields and modulating lines. ‘Ich auch‘ depicts two tangential forms: the amputated leg and a corpulent curve, on top of which several Picabia-esque figures merge into a confounding knot of shared limbs. The word Sillman employs for this confluence of figures––and the focus of the zine––is diagram, a concept that redeems her work from mere AbEx gesticulations. By mapping out thought through a series of intuitive or unique connections, Sillman’s diagrams create room for idiosyncratic wit and everyday perversity, with precisely those leaps of logic that make her paintings look so vibrant and fearless.”
“Amy Sillman: zum Gegenstand,” Carlier|Gebaue, Berlin, Germany. Through June 13.