Ed Ruscha - Metro Mattress #4, 2015/2017
Ed Ruscha’s career-long exploration of horizontality has included compendia of the buildings of urban Los Angeles, word paintings, photo books, and prints running the full gamut of his readymade subjects, all of which highlight his admitted fascination with the language of landscape. The mattress is a particular kind of landscape, though; a decidedly horizontal object and one that supports both physically and psychically, engendering the production of those imaginary landscapes called dreams.
In his recent series, Metro Mattresses, Ed Ruscha has produced an intimate portrait of a certain kind of dream, now encountered as a discarded object tossed out onto the street, which Ruscha photographed and then translated to the flat two-dimensional plane. What type of landscape is this mattress set? A clue is given by the reversal of the usual order of things – box spring on top of mattress, bloody smears moving against the laws of gravity. Beneath the transparent fabric cover of the box spring, we see what looks like a picture frame, or a cross – both sights of imaginary projection. In Ruscha’s exacting image, who could blame us for believing that maybe there really is no difference between the two?
Candida Höfer - Colored Wood, 2017
The camera lens is a seemingly infinite architectural space capable of miniaturizing a world into a rectangular box and, when controlled correctly, that space offers a corresponding infinitum of texture and detail to its chosen subject. Recognized as a technical master of this medium, Candida Höfer rhymes the vastness of “real” architectural spaces with those provided by the mechanical apparatus itself to create stark portraits of (mostly uninhabited) spaces generally devoid of any vestige of the personal or anecdotal.
Höfer’s Colored Wood, 2017, is no exception in its technical virtuosity – the artist having framed the background and foreground in such claustrophobic proximity as to have effectively collapsed the distinction between the two. And yet this is a rare piece in Höfer’s oeuvre as it captures not a sweeping interior view, but rather an intimate detail thereof. The “colored wood” that is the work’s putative referent appears vertically across the plane of the print, building a syntax of painterly strokes: light blues, crimsons, a pea green, and finally, 70s-era glossy burnt umber wood. Between these vertical bands, a hazy reticulation unites the visual field. And here, the light seems to emerge from within the flat pictorial space rather than from somewhere outside the frame. At further remove, there is the faint outline of a window, and beside it, perhaps a table or graphic emblem, though it is impossible to say for sure. This is because all of Höfer’s usual grammar of spatial recession has been inverted in this work, giving us a penetrating exploration of the infinite layers of real and illusory depth that comprise the inscrutable photographic surface.
These limited edition prints by Ed Ruscha and Candida Höfer will be available at Texte zur Kunst