Critics’ Picks

Thea Djordjadze, Explain away, ე.ი., 2009, wood, hardboard, carpet, paint, clay, fabric, 12' x 16' 6" x 30'. Installation view.


Thea Djordjadze

Sprüth Magers | Berlin
Oranienburger Straße 18
September 22–November 7

Thea Djordjadze’s Explain Away, ე.ი., 2009, the largest work in this solo exhibition, is austerely theatrical. It connects a few sparse elements of sculpture, painting, and architecture to form a rudimentary space that is governed by a concentrated pictorial logic. The stagelike setting articulates a formal language that is unique to Djordjadze but is connected to modernism through dense, formally reduced sculptural arrangements.

Djordjadze uses three dividing walls that reach up to the ceiling to construct a space within the work; the structure encompasses the installation like a transparent frame, defining the inside and the outside and establishing sight lines and paths for the viewer. These framing elements consist of thin strips of wood that have been painted black and are arranged in open rectilinear fields of varying sizes: They look like an extensive, spatial line drawing. Here, Djordjadze references the Eameses’ Case Study House #8 (1945–49), though her version is so abstract that the crisp lines unfold with poetic force. The artist literally creates a frame for the gaze, introducing rhythm to the space and allowing the other works to be read within a modernist living-space setting.

The arrangements within the installation are akin to a basic formula for living spaces: a table, pictures, possibly a dresser, all reduced to simple gestures, a simplification that promotes ambiguity. For instance, the table is so large and flat that it functions as a horizontal pictorial element within the entire space. It also serves as the plinth that carries the simple arrangement of two sculptures made by hand from unfired clay, one of which is placed on an antique folded carpet. On the adjacent wall hangs a stylized frame, which also appears as a shelf with uneven edges. Its surface has been painted densely and hastily in green; it seems to be a painting yet also a model of a painting. All in all, Djordjadze weaves minimal arrangements into a subtle, whole texture––a stage on which things retreat into the pictorial.

Translated from German by Jane Brodie