Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present a remarkable group of new works by Uta Barth. As the artist’s ninth solo
exhibition with the gallery, this show will bring together two of Barth’s latest series of color photographs within the main
floor exhibition spaces.
Furthering her exploration of the atmospheric and incidental, Barth conceived her latest major body of work, ... and to
draw a bright white line with light, on the occasion of her 2011 solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. This series
is installed in the main gallery space as a sequence of diptych and triptych paneled photographs that trace a growing
ribbon of light against the curtains of the artist’s home. Created over the course of a single afternoon, this project follows
a distinct chronology that diverges from the circular nature of her earlier series. Here, Barth captures glimpses of the
ephemeral as it exists between two fixed points in time, beginning with the very first sliver of light that snakes across her
textured curtains and culminating in large ribbons that fill the final frame. Despite this sequential ordering, however,
these photographs do not invite a linear narrative. Rather, they coalesce to transform observations as simple as a ray of
afternoon sunlight into a lyrical description of the passage of time, heightening our awareness of such subtleties and, in
turn, the process of looking itself.
Throughout the past two decades, Barth has made visual perception the subject of her work. Regarded for her “empty”
images that border on painterly abstraction, the artist carefully renders blurred backgrounds, cropped frames and the
natural qualities of light to capture incidental and fleeting moments, those which exist almost exclusively within our
periphery. With a deliberate disregard for both the conventional photographic subject and point-and-shoot role of the
camera, Barth’s work delicately deconstructs conventions of visual representation by calling our attention to the limits of
the human eye.
In her newest series, however, Barth no longer remains the mere observer. For the first time in her practice, she overtly
manipulates her surroundings by drawing the folds of her curtains in order to shape the growing line of sunlight into
desired configurations. Similar to her 2010 series, … to walk without destination and to see only to see., Barth registers
her presence by including the occasional glimpse of her hand as it works to draw the line of light. Such details lend a
process-based, performative element to this series that, ironically, aligns it neatly with the artist’s ongoing exploration of
image making. With every tug of the curtain and new line of light, Barth creates photographs in their most literal form –
as drawings of light.
The exhibition continues in the rear space of Gallery One with Barth’s partner project, Compositions of Light on White.
Set in dialogue with ... and to draw a bright white line with light., these minimal works feature Mondrian-like grids of light
and architecture as they appear within the setting of Barth’s bedroom. Through a timely adjustment of her blinds, the
artist projects rectilinear patterns of light along a trio of built-in closet doors, producing complex works that reconsider
notions of peripheral space in relation to composition. Her sharp sense of geometric formalism is evident in the jarring
juxtapositions she presents between flat, painterly abstractions of light and abrupt shifts in volume and depth. An
intentional slip in the margin of one photograph reveals the shadow lines of a deep set of drawers; in another, a distant
hallway that suddenly flips the image into three-dimensional space. Barth harnesses these peripheral details as both the
subject and departure point for this series, a method to create composition and, at the same time, challenge our very
perception of it.
The artist continues these notions of space through the installation of these works within the rear gallery. With the
exception of her earliest Ground and Field series, this is the only time Barth has rendered her photographs as individual,
self-contained images. Each is mounted in a deep, floating frame that she positions to create a thin shadow line around
her works as a way to “lock down” the image. Barth then extends this plane of composition onto the surrounding walls of
the gallery by arranging her photographs in response to the room itself. She balances images of various sizes and
formats against one another as well as architectural elements such as a doorway or a remote corner, re-articulating our
experience of the space through its quiet idiosyncrasies. As within many of Barth’s installations, her photographs
become a means, rather than merely an end, to her work. They are, as Barth herself affirms, “a mantra that allows us to
tune into the subtlest, most ephemeral information that I am trying to chase down.”
Uta Barth's work is represented in numerous museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New
York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and Bilbao, Spain; The
Tate Modern, London; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Los
Angeles County Museum of Art; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among
others. Recent exhibitions include Uta Barth: … and to draw a bright white line with light at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2011 (solo); Magical Consciousness at Arnolfini, Bristol, UK, 2011 (group); Uta Barth at the Henry Art Gallery, University
of Washington, Seattle, 2011 (solo) and The Artist’s Museum at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2010-
2011 (group). In 2010, Gregory R. Miller & Co. (New York) released the artist’s major monograph publication titled The
Long Now. In 2012, Blind Spot Books (New York) will publish a catalogue featuring Barth’s work from this exhibition.