Sreshta Rit Premnath

KANSAS Gallery
210 Rivington Street
January 26, 2014–March 8, 2014

View of “Knot Not Nought,” 2014.

An unlikely art-historical accident anchors Sreshta Rit Premnath’s mind-bending exhibition. On a pair of windows of an apartment turned gallery and then studio in Warsaw two artistic signatures—Daniel Buren’s 8.7-centimeter painted vertical stripe and Edward Krasinski’s 20-millimeter horizontal band of blue Scotch tape—overlapped. Both artists envisioned their interventions as conceptual gestures and not artistic objects, pointing to the surrounding architecture while maintaining their own material and semantic neutrality. But what happens to the simple equation between gesture and object when two gestures coincide? Do both remain gestures or become objects? Or do they oscillate incessantly between these two ontological conditions?

In lieu of definite answers Premnath rehearses this encounter, documented in a somewhat unexceptional archival photograph, using strategies of entanglement, negation, abstraction, and substitution, all wittily encapsulated in the show’s homophone-laden title, “Knot Not Nought.” And he adds his own artistic signature, introducing materials and motifs that remain resolutely liminal. True to Krasinski, blue tape circumscribes the walls, but it is painted over in white, a ghostly horizon line, ever present but not always visible. The dimensions of the original window are echoed in Performance # 25 and Gradient, both 2014. In the former, a black linen tarp is carefully bleached to recreate Buren’s alternating vertical stripes. In the latter, nine clear Plexiglas strips lean against a wall, their lower halves painted in a gradient that shifts from chroma-key blue to chroma-key green, colors commonly used as backdrops in the television and film industry to create screens of absence that enable the projection of infinite presences. Set off by a sprayed black outline, the tape links this arrangement to an enlargement of the original photograph on the adjacent wall, the abstract gesture invading the print.

Elsewhere, perched atop this invisible horizon are two groups of selections from “Zettel,” 2014, a series of loopy, wormy doodles—whose title and size are borrowed from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s book of philosophical maxims—created by dropping bleached twine onto black C-prints. Each is a variation on the mathematical form of the “zero knot”—a continuous loop that appears as infinite entanglements that all resolve to zero—and the red and yellow tints the bleach reveals introduce endless complexity into the absolute of black and white.

— Murtaza Vali