Lisa Williamson: A Landscape and a Hum: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

October 27 - December 17, 2022
Installation Views
Press release

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present A Landscape and a Hum, a solo exhibition of new sculptures and works on paper by Lisa Williamson, on view from October 27 through December 17, 2022. This is the artist’s first major solo exhibition in New York, following her debut exhibition with the gallery in Los Angeles last year. 

Approaching the gallery as a container for individual and collective abstraction, Lisa Williamson leans into the formal considerations of sculpture to create works that are visually precise, physically resonant, and highly attuned to the spaces in which they are exhibited. In a series of suspended sculptures, wall reliefs, and works on paper, Williamson describes a landscape that is not separate from architecture or bodies, but is rather a distilled construction in parts — a compression. The title of the exhibition, A Landscape and a Hum, reflects not only the resonance or charge imbued within a particular form but also that of the space a work inhabits. 

Williamson has developed a method of production in which the structural integrity of materials like steel and aluminum are circumvented by delicate yet densely hand-painted surfaces. Investigating the nuance of color while building a concentrated surface, the artist achieves a distinct material autonomy. This process of tuning and calibration is evident in her series of Suspension sculptures, installed throughout the ground level gallery. Each of the four sculptures are seven feet tall and are suspended from the ceiling to hover just above the floor. Resembling scientific illustrations or functional instruments (most specifically a tuning fork), these vertical forms are visceral and assertive. Suspension Wave is an enlarged ribbon-like form painted in layers of soft, rubbery pink and semi-reflective silver. Whereas this work feels elastic and magnetic, Suspension Point punctuates and cuts through space. Divided into sections of fluorescent orange, mauve-cream, and gloss black, this slender, arrow-like form is an intense, chromatic bolt. Positioned throughout the gallery, each of Williamson’s Suspension sculptures are hovering anchor points, saturated markers that concretize space and amplify their surroundings.

In a series of vertical wall reliefs the artist frames body and landscape from another vantage point. Flattened, folded, expanded, and adorned, Williamson’s reliefs express the character of discrete physical spaces while also retaining a human quality. In Silhouette Rouge, a dress-like form is paired with deep orange and pink hues. Casting color against the wall as a vibrant echo, the work embodies personified sculpture. Parallel Field is an architectural structure with two parallel walls jutting from its surface to produce a narrow corridor. A pattern of rich vertical stripes wraps seamlessly around the panel, allowing the walls to recede and expand depending on the viewer’s perspective. The artist’s expansive approach to color and meticulous attention to surface feels particularly energetic here.

Throughout the exhibition, Williamson creates an equilibrium between distinct sculptural forms — a hum, as described by the artist. This sensitive approach to the demarcation of space is evident in her Bar sculptures, a series of narrow horizontal wall reliefs that wrap around the upstairs gallery. Installed as an interrupted line, each Bar is a rectilinear volume of varying length that holds space in its physicality. In Bar Horizon, long horizontal stripes of concentrated color stretch from edge to edge. Shifting between warm and cool hues, metallic and matte finishes, wide and narrow bands, the work is a vast and animated expanse. In Bar Ladder, the artist takes on a more measured position. Tethered by an aqua band, a field of gold-ochre is disrupted by pale-pink rectangles set apart at equal intervals. Akin to a ladder on its side, the sculpture is a pared illustration that oscillates from flat abstraction to terse representation. 

Exhibited in the adjoining project room is a selection of works on paper. Constructed from painted and collaged archival matboard, these pressed forms both relate to and deviate from other works in the exhibition. Retaining a sculptural presence, Williamson’s works on paper elucidate certain formal investigations by the artist while also feeling untethered and expressive. Throughout her practice, Williamson follows an associative logic to create forms that are both tangible and resistant at once. Idiosyncratic in approach while rigorous in execution, Williamson continues to soften the line between painting and sculpture, abstraction and representation, language and object. 

Born in 1977, Lisa Williamson lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a MFA from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (2008) and received her BFA from Arizona State University, Tempe (1999). 

Williamson’s work has been included in important group exhibitions including the 2010 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2010); Made in L.A., Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Variations: Conversations In and Around Abstract Painting, Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, CA (2014); PROSPECT 2017, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA (2017). In 2009 the artist completed a residency at CCA Andratx in Mallorca, Spain. Williamson was the recipient of the 2007 LA Studios, Inc. Sound Award as well as the University Teaching Fellowship at University of Southern California, Los Angeles. The artist also received the CAAP Grant in Chicago in 2001 and 2002. 

Lisa Williamson’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; and CCA Andratx, Mallorca.



All installation images above: Photo by Pierre Le Hors