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Aspen Art Museum


Cy Gavin

Mar 30, 2021-Jul 11, 2021

In his recent work, Cy Gavin depicts natural surroundings close to home and at a distance. A fallen tree that once demarcated a property line, a displaced rock, or a breaking wave, for instance, are all found formally represented in a new collection of paintings. Though seemingly separated from humankind, the movements alluded to in these particular subjects could be thought of with regard to migratory patterns, such as the dispersion of people from one country to another, not unlike the boulder moved by a glacier in Untitled (Glacial Erratic) (2021).

On the other hand, Untitled (Dam) (2021) portrays a patchwork of a former hydropower dam behind the artist’s studio in the Hudson Valley, a region of New York itself the product of glacial activity. Now in disrepair, the dam is perhaps a monument to its own failure to stem natural forces or, to a greater extent, impose artificial borders. Similarly, Gavin’s preoccupation with temporality extends to the macro. Untitled (NEOWISE) (2021) is a painting of the spectacular comet whose rare visibility in the Northern Hemisphere last summer coincided with a tumultuous year in America’s recent past. While looking at the stars might allow reflection on the transience of humankind, this comet’s depiction is simultaneously a marker of time as it passes the earth every 6,800 years.

The largest piece in this exhibition, Untitled (Cavern) (2021), is as much a portrayal of a cavern as it is a study in darkness—the artist often paints nocturnally, and this canvas is shown alone in Gallery 4 on light-absorbing wall paint. Gavin has painted caves before, following his interest in the subterranean both as a geological phenomenon and historical site impacted by human intervention. As such, the changing political landscapes that redefine citizenship underlie the exhibition. By connecting concepts of land ownership with the articulation of power within societies, Gavin questions how our surroundings are subject to definition or privatization, ultimately leading to the problematics of identifying a unilateral history in the present.

Cy Gavin is curated by Saim Demircan, AAM Curator at Large.

AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the AAM National Council. Additional support for Cy Gavin’s exhibition is provided by David Zwirner.

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