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Perrotin Gallery: Daniel Arsham "Time Dilation"

What I’m trying to create for viewers is to pull them outside of this moment, 10,000 years from now and where that time period has been collapsed.

— Daniel Arsham for The New York Times

The paintings included in the present exhibition may be a surprise to some, who have come into contact with Arsham only in the past few years. But he was trained as a painter, and the first works he showed with Perrotin were in this medium. The disrupted circumstances of 2020 all but forced him back to the easel, as social distancing made his usual studio operations impossible. Suddenly it was just him and the blank canvas.

After first laying out his images, he transfers them manually to the canvas, employing a special formulation of acrylic, super-matte with a high pigment load. Because the pictures are monochromatic, they have something of the character of photographs, but also a rich texture, an assertive materiality. As for the images – they are like a visit to the cathedral of his mind, a psychic spelunk. Sublime caverns open up to our view, populated by classical figures depicted at disconcerting scale. We are in the cave, here. This is what we find when we go back to the origins of history, or imagine how it all will end, from Lascaux to Plato’s Republic to the Fortress of Solitude, from womb to tomb. Our present hangs, crystalline, multi-faceted, and oh so fragile, somewhere along that ambit; one that Arsham alone seems to traverse, round and round on the track of time.

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