Gestalten, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde.
Until 28 November you can see a solo exhibition with enigmatic velvet works by Sara Sizer in Gallery Sofie van de Velde in Antwerp. Where most painters add layers to their work, the American artist is known for removing layers from her material. By extracting the colour with bleach, she arrives at an abstract surface. Some of her works look like landscapes, but the works in these exhibitions are more abstract.
As a material, velvet is loaded with a multitude of connotations, including femininity, luxury, kitsch and religion. From the lavish corset of Sargent's “Madame X” to religious robes. Born in Texas, Sizer associates the material with kitschy velvet paintings of dogs playing poker. The artist almost regards the material as a more defining factor in the end result than her own contribution.
Sara Sizer, Holiday, 2021, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde
Sizer, in an interview with Rick Beerhorst: “Through an accident I started working with bleach on raw linen. Then I started working with other materials: I tried bleaching red velvet. I bought the red velvet at IKEA, which was already very tightly packaged so it already had these really definite folds in a grid pattern. I started to bleach it with spray and rinse it. The rinsing stops the bleaching process, a little bit like photography. When I find some material that I really like, I consider what I can do with it. What’s in there that needs to come out. Hopefully we’re mirroring something in our own time. Expressed in a way that doesn’t have words.”
Sara Sizer, Beliver, 2021, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde
The bleaching marked the beginning of a process of chemical experimentation in her Berlin studio. Sizer started using different liquids, that - unlike paint - keep the fabric soft. Sometimes she applies the liquid to folded, layered velvet. After the liquid has been applied in a 'paint' stroke, it takes on a life of its own. Applied in a sharp stroke, it then “blooms” in irregular shapes on the porous material, mixing with other stripes in unexpected ways.
Sizer uses capillarity action in her artistic process, a physical phenomenon in which liquid flows without being influenced by gravity. The ink molecules in the liquid stick to the tiny channels in the velvet, and other molecules stick to previously applied molecules, so that the ink can travel upwards in an uncontrolled movement. For the artist, relinquishing control is an exercise in letting go, a way of letting go in real life as well.
Sara Sizer, Paar, 2021, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde
Sizer has exhibited her work in group exhibitions at museums including the Hamburger Kunsthalle and Moma PS1 in New York.
The exhibition 'Gestalten' by Sara Sizer will be on show at Gallery Sofie van de Velde in Antwerp until 28 November.