Polly Apfelbaum: Second That Emotion

15 March - 20 April 2013

For over twenty years, the American artist Polly Apfelbaum has been steadily expanding the language of abstraction. In this exhibition, works from two recent bodies of her work offer an excellent introduction to her vibrant and innovative creations. The small-scale sculptures known as the "Feelies" sit on a table top in grid formation, while a large cloth "Ombre" stretches out across the floor of the Mumbai Art Room. Apfelbaum's sculptural and two-dimensional compositions are characterized by mesmerizing patterns and vibrant colors intrinsic to her unusual materials, which have included many kinds of textiles, raw pigment powder, sequins, and unfired polymer and plasticine modeling clays. Optical stimulation is heightened, and installation methods are raw. 

A wide range of associations come to mind, bouncing from building tiles and indoor carpets to childrens' crafts and bakery dough—and yet at the same time, these works have roots in the many formal traditions of abstract painting, and the industrial appropriations and fabrication methods of Minimalist art. There is an equalization of aesthetic hierarchies and categories that Apfelbaum actively seems to court.


As the artist has written of the cloth floor work, from the "Ombres" series:


For the "Ombres," I work with a found structure: each piece follows a specific manufacturer’s color series, or ready-made color progression. I play at once on the rich, emotional associations of color and the ready-made structure. I am interested in pop and the everyday: repetition, reiteration and routine. I like ordinary, cheap and slightly tacky materials.  Materials that you would not normally associate with art making.


Describing the "Feelies":


 [The "Feelies" show] sense of immediacy, as opposed to the durability and permanence that always seems to me to be signified in painting. There is a focus on possibility and process as opposed to an end point. I think of it as automatic abstraction, a negative abstraction, more open, based on chance, creating order within even haphazard circumstance.


The title of this show, Second That Emotion, springs from the image used for the exhibition poster of two Bombay kids, Vishaka Malode and Tanushri Tandel, flashing peace signs during the 2011 monsoon, grinning while standing ankle-deep in fresh rainwater outside the Mumbai Art Room. It simultaneously refers to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' song from the sixties, "I Second That Emotion," and perhaps most importantly, invites the audience to reaffirm this exuberant abstraction.



About the artist


Polly Apfelbaum is a winner of the 2013 Rome Prize. A New York-based artist since 1978, she received her BFA from Tyler School of Art and has been showing her work consistently in the United States and internationally since her first one person show in 1986. Recent solo exhibitions include “Plainiverse,” Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna; “Flatland: color revolts,” Hansel and Gretel Pictures Gardens, NYC; "Flatterland: color revolts,” D'Amelio Gallery, NYC. Recent group shows include “Regarding Warhol,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; and “Simpatico,” Boston University. Her work is part of many important public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Dallas Museum, to name a few. She is represented by CliftonBenevento in New York City, Frith Street Gallery in London, and Galerie nächst St. Stephan in Vienna.