Critics’ Picks

Amy Sillman, Untitled (01′21, right), 2012, ink-jet print on rice paper, 44 1/8 x 61".

Amy Sillman, Untitled (01′21, right), 2012, ink-jet print on rice paper, 44 1/8 x 61".


Amy Sillman

80 rue Julien Lacroix
May 12–July 28, 2012

The centerpiece of Amy Sillman’s first solo exhibition in France is a six-minute digital animation comprising 2,000 drawings, which Sillman made on an iPad, accompanied by a voice-over of the artist reading a 2009 poem by Lisa Robertson. Draft of a voice-over for split screen video loop (all works 2012) reprises Sillman’s signature mix of abstract and representational imagery as well as her luscious candy-colored palette—proving that her skill and style as a painter are well adapted to the new technology of digital finger painting. Marrying two of her preferred subjects—language and sexuality—Sillman’s animation illustrates the complexities of expressing (or denying) femininity when language itself is a gendered construct.

Robertson’s poem underscores this paradox, pairing lines like “Her pronoun is sedition unrecognized as such” with images of Sillman’s female figures talking, crying, eating, aging, raging, and morphing in and out of recognition. Sillman, who at one point thought she might become a linguist or a translator, has long since created her own visual language—which here finds a verbal counterpart in Robertson’s work.

The animation reveals a typically concealed—but critical—aspect of Sillman’s process. She reworks compositions as she paints, often covering original imagery completely—a practice that is obscured in a finished painting. In Draft of a voice-over for split screen video loop, however, the additive/reductive evolution is exploited to create the animation. In one further act of transparency, the exhibition features twenty-eight prints based on unique animation stills. On the back of each print is stamped: “This image was originally drawn on an iPad (with my finger) & was printed by the artist Nathan Baker on archival newsprint paper. It cost 30 euros to print, and is being sold for that cost. Please don’t resell it. If you don’t want to keep it, please give it to someone as a gift. Thank you. Amy Sillman.”