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Richard Serra

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
June 24–September 24

Richard Serra, Ramble 3-54, 2015, litho crayon and pastel powder on handmade paper, 19 3/4 x 25 1/4".

Richard Serra forgoes color in his drawings, considering it an added value, not a structural property. Color does not fit the straight logic of his process, in which materials exist unto themselves and not as references to anything else. This exhibition presents around eighty of these black-and-white drawings, the majority made in the past two years. They are drawings by a sculptor, but not in the sense that they are sketches or structural three-dimensional representations. Rather, the works share some basic aspects of their conception with Serra’s sculptural work. The compositions are the result of a printmaking-like process whereby the artist applies paint stick, silica, graphite powder, or other black pigments on a table surface and then presses a sheet of paper against it with the help of a weighty metal box. Gravity, pressure, gesture, and the texture of paper’s grain are defining factors in how the compositions will look.

In Rotterdam Verticals and Rotterdam Horizontals, both 2016–17, there is a repetitive play of dark forms; differences in pigment density create an abstract story line. The work looks romantic rather then minimal, as the shapes are dramatic and surrounded by visual noise. The show ends in a crescendo with four huge works from the series “Rift,” 2011–17. Here, Serra’s technique is different: Paint stick has been applied in huge quantities and ends up much thicker than the paper. The term drawing hardly covers the results, which look more like sculpted, monochrome surfaces, interrupted by sharp triangular rifts. They hark back to the minimal aesthetics of Serra’s steel works: heavy, balanced, and determined in their definition of spatial divisions.

Jurriaan Benschop