13.05.11 — 16.09.11 ‘Sam Messenger & Larissa Nowicki — In the Great Process’

For the past five years, Man&Eve has been championing the work of Sam Messenger and Larissa Nowicki. We are delighted to present a survey of some of the key works that each artist has produced during this time.

There is a shared formal and chromatic vocabulary in the work of Sam Messenger and Larissa Nowicki, which is also defined by an emphasis upon line, grids, and fields of subtle color, that lends itself to a joint presentation of their work.

Depending on the modalities used, Messenger’s drawing resembles a weaving or an interlaced design. The works often take weeks or months to create, using meticulous manual processes that exclude technical assistance other than a ruler and a compass. This fact, together with the size and slow pace of the task, immediately bring to mind the making of Buddhist mandalas those geometric, symbolic representations of the universe intended to lift both their creators and viewers to higher meditative spheres to disconnect with the conscious state. As with Sol LeWitt, Messenger’s lines are drawn, often in their thousands, with the lightest, almost immaterial of touches. Nonetheless, the radiating, pulsating patterns created by numerous superimpositions endlessly belie the apparent flatness of the support.

This focus on the sensory, temporal and processual, together with the exploration of an ambiguous space is also found in Nowicki’s work. Nowicki’s sculptures and weavings are formed from the printed pages of books, sliced and intricately woven by hand to form new works which cannot be read in the traditional sense. The fragments of type and images used by Nowicki in her textual pieces imply the process of thought, reason and receiving of information, whilst the resultant loosely assembled grids and reductive forms invoke the vocabulary of minimalism. Yet, the work originates from her personal and emotional experiences and still retains small flaws and unmistakable traces of the artist’s hand. The densely woven grids of letters and words are punctuated randomly by blank squares, empty of print and highlighted as if to create silent and reflective moments within the noise of daily thought. These are works which finely balance their contradictions – order with disorder, imperfection with precision, and stability and control within moments of complete vulnerability.

Messenger and Nowicki both show considerable restraint in their work. Like artists such as Agnes Martin and Sol LeWitt before them, the subtle unobtrusiveness of their making serves to intensify, through contrast, the aesthetic feeling they arouse in attentive viewers, in those who allow themselves to be caught up in these visual systems.

Sam Messenger trained at Camberwell College of Art and at the Royal College of Art. Recent exhibitions include ‘Now What?’, Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach (2011), ‘If you could Collaborate’, A Foundation, London (2010), ‘Contained Thoughts’, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2009) and ‘The Art of Lost Worlds’, The German Gymnasium, London (2009). Messenger was recently included in Marina Cashdan’s ‘Top Ten Emerging Artists of 2011’ in the Huffington Post.

Larissa Nowicki studied at Rhode Island School of Design and at the Royal College of Art, where she and Messenger were contemporaries. Recent exhibitions include ‘Origine(s)’ at Maison Particulière, Brussels’ (2011), ‘Dig Down in Time’, Man&Eve Project Space, London (2010), ‘Book Ends’, James Fuentes Gallery, NYC (2010), ‘Illiterature’, USA University Art Gallery, California State University, Chico, California (2010), ‘In Waiting’, Man&Eve (2009), ‘8 1/2 × 11 / A4’, James Fuentes Gallery, NY (2008), ‘RISD NYC Biennial’ 2008, Brooklyn, NY (2008). Notes to editors:The exhibition takes place at 2 Newburgh Street, London W1F 7RD.

Private viewings by invitation: 13th May, 14th June, 5th July, 6.30 – 8.30pm

At other times, the exhibition is open to the public by prior appointment. Please contact info@manandeve.co.uk to arrange a viewing.

In association with the exhibition, Man&Eve will publish an essay about the work of Sam Messenger by Matthieu Poirier, art critic, curator and lecturer in the History of Contemporary Art at the Sorbonne University in Paris.