Ann Gillen

Toward Civic Art

November 17, 2022 - January 28, 2023


Maquette for Flying Red, 1973, sheet aluminum, 4 x 4 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches
10 x 11.4 x 16.5 cm, (dimensions including base 5 1/4 x 11 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches,13.3 x 29.2 x 19.7) / Photo: Steven Probert



Polina Berlin Gallery is pleased to present Toward Civic Art, an exhibition of sculpture by American artist Ann Gillen. On view from November 17, 2022 through January 14, 2023 and co-curated by Miles Huston, this marks the artist's first one-person gallery exhibition in twenty years.

Over the course of more than five decades, Gillen’s prodigious artistic output has encompassed sculpture, drawing, design, print-making, and book-making. Her process employs material translations, iterative distortions, and scalar transformations similarly found in architectural planning. Concerned with structure, construction, and scalability, her sculpture practice has taken shape in monumental and intimate scales; with works realized in a wide variety of materials. Toward Civic Art investigates the numerous civic projects envisaged and carried out by Gillen throughout her career.

Everywhere in Gillen’s work there is a constant choreography of folding and unfolding, leaping and coloring, of holes filled by light and planes drawn by shadows. The artist makes use of geometric forms, of line and planes, gravity and axial relationships to configure works that highlight their making. Structural decisions are also aesthetic ones. Her sculptures are first developed as a maquette, sometimes articulated in sheet metal or cardboard or made as a loose three-dimensional paper sketch. The full size construction follows: forms are cut from planar materials; plywood, metal, or stone; and color is used to delineate relationships between them.

Gillen approaches the parameters of creating sculpture meant to exist in the world as a context or reality with which to engage. “For a sculptor, the artwork begins with needing to get it through the door,” she says. “I revel in showing in real spaces with people walking by and with the vagaries of weather, daylight changes, site effects.” Her consideration of siting, environment, and conservation are the cornerstones of her process. This sensibility cements her as an eminently civic and social artist. Her work fulfills the call expressed by the 1970 essay, by Hungarian artist and theorist Gyorgy Kepes, from which Toward Civic Art takes its title: to make art that develops “consciousness of social interdependence, and builds the sense of living freely according to ways in which everything fits together.” Gillen’s studies at the Pratt Institute, where she practiced the Bauhaus exercises of material, taught her the attributes of structure and medium that to this day inform her work.

The artist’s prolific practice draws upon a wide range of inspiration: from the women’s art movement of the 60s, to the Black Mountain poets, to older traditions; notably those that depicted bodies and imagery throughout public space. The frieze at the Parthenon, the reliefs bordering Buddhist stupas, and the façades of the Italian Baroque all find themselves refigured in her work. Her sculptures, often conceived to stand alone and as part of a series, convey a quiet harmony between individual and group.

Gillen forged a singular path and made the civic realm a home for her work. By the 1960s and 70s, her interest in Bauhaus principles and aesthetics was met with indifference by an art world saturated first by Abstract Expressionism and, later, Minimalism. The abiding sexism that followed her career as a sculptor posed another obstacle. Still, she achieved notable success functioning largely outside the traditional commercial gallery system, exhibiting through commissions in New York City and its environs. To date, Gillen has completed thirty public, private, and corporate commissions. Her myriad maquettes and proposals reveal the ingenuity and nimbleness that competing for public and corporate commissions required of her.

In her Soho studio, where Gillen has worked for nearly four decades, new proposals are waiting to be realized: a humble piece of paper pierced with wire is transmuted into tiny reclining figures by the seaside. And further uptown, her exuberant Flying Red, installed in 1987, stands triumphantly on 55th Street and Third Avenue, not far from this gallery.

Ann Gillen (b. 1935, Washington, D.C.) has lived and worked in Manhattan since 1959. Her sculptures have been installed in public parks in every borough of the city; in galleries, her work has been shown in twenty one-person and sixty-one group shows, and is included in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Fogg Art Museum, the Tibor de Nagy Collection, the Pierre Matisse Collection, and the collection of Mildred Constantin. Her public, private, and corporate commissions have included sculptures, murals and reliefs designed for the ice-skating pavilion of the XIII Winter Olympics in Lake Placid (1980), the garage at Lincoln Center Plaza (1994), and a stairwell of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (2007).


This exhibition is dedicated to artist, writer, curator, and gallerist Jenni Crain for befriending Ann and introducing us to her work.


Press release 

New York Times - Ann Gillen: Sculpting in Plain Sight

Art News - Breakfast with ArtNews | The Digest




Point Figure (with color), 1995, aluminum, 16 1/2 x 19 1/4 x 12 1/2 inches, 
41.9 x 48.9 x 31.7 cm / Photo: Steven Probert


Study for a Tower, 1984, sheet aluminum and enamel oil paint, 15 x 12 x 6 inches
38 x 30.5 x 15.2 cm/ Photo: Steven Probert

Cylinder, 1977, sheet aluminum and paper, 8 1/4 x 6 7/8 x 6 7/8 inches
30 x 17.5 x 17.5 cm/ Photo: Steven Probert


Study for Newark Airport, 1979, aluminum, 12 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 8 inches
31.1 x 54 x 20.3 cm, (dimensions including base 14 x 22 3/8 x 11 1/8 inches, 35.6 x 56.8 x 28.3 cm)/ Photo: Steven Probert





Vilte Fuller 

Strangers by the Side of the Road

September 16 - November 4, 2022


Good, good, she’s rewarding her dog verbally, 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas, 66 x 50 inches
167.6 x 127cm / Photo: Steven Probert


Polina Berlin Gallery is pleased to present Strangers by the Side of the Road, an exhibition of new paintings by Lithuanian-born, London-based artist Vilte Fuller. On view September 16 through October 15, 2022, this marks the artist's first one-person exhibition in the United States.


As a girl, Fuller spent summers in the remote Lithuanian countryside. “There was nothing there.” In order to fill the space with something, she and her cousin would make up stories. They would also watch American movies in which aliens appear in fields of corn. Now, when Fuller paints, she first paints the canvas black, like a child looking into the dark, waiting for the afterimages burned into her retina to materialize into figures. From there, she conjures the outlines, in white, of reference images generated digitalIy, the kinds of faces and forms an AI will draw out of the well of our collective imagination. Every successive layer of oil that Fuller applies makes the painting lighter and lighter and lighter; it is impossible not to think of irradiation when faced with Fuller’s work—of a blinding nuclear dawn that leaves us with something between a memory and a hallucination.

The resulting paintings are glamorous hellscapes that lie in the uncanny valley between dystopia and nostalgia. They have a Frankenstein quality; indeed, when Fuller doesn’t have enough canvas for a big painting, she simply sews smaller pieces together to produce a sutured skin-like surface, like a patchwork quilt you’d rather leave in your grandmother’s parlor, surrounded by gruesome porcelain knickknacks and pickled vegetables. Inspired by popular culture, particularly Western film, television, and video games, her Lithuanian heritage and the country’s folklore, and Eastern European cuisine, Fuller’s practice produces images that are both historical fictions and possible futures, as much insightful dissections of our cultural imagination as they are hypnotic figurations of human psychology. She explores the Eastern Europe envisioned by the Western media and artificial intelligences alike, those landscapes visited in video games, on television, and in newspaper headlines. The Chernobyl exclusion zone, decaying Soviet brutalist architecture, superstitions and conspiracies —these are liminal territories of indeterminate coordinates that her paintings inhabit, haunted by the ghosts of genre, pulsing with what we do not know. On a Sunday in Lithuania, she tells me, parents might bring their children to a horrific sculpture park called “Hill of the Witches”; Fuller’s paintings, too, take us to a place that is both far, far away and all too familiar.

In Strangers by the Side of the Road, miasmas of blue and green roll over abandoned highways, moonlit waters, and orange sunsets. Besides being the color of aliens and pickles and toxicity, green—a fact Fuller delights in—is the color of paintings worth 25% less than average at auctions; it is also the color of the Soviet-era prisons, hospitals, and apartment interiors that, in Lithuania, have long since been painted over. In fact, the distended faces that stare out at us from deep within that color, in Fuller’s work, are more or less what one would imagine a prisoner, patient, or housewife to daydream into a wallpaper—friends and enemies grown strange, a beautiful woman and her dog, appearing, all of a sudden, like storybook characters. Looking at the paintings is an experience of dimensional polymorphism: of surfaces swelling, or maybe of objects being flattened into smears of paint. Indeed, there is a strong sense of the sculptural on Fuller’s canvases; the artist’s inspirations for Strangers by the Side of the Road included alien heads carved out of jade and the chill-inducing, dead-eyed bootleg teletubby plushies given to children in Post-Soviet countries.

Despite or because of all their overt ghoulishness, Fuller’s paintings retain a magnetic charm, a kind of child-like good humor that comes from the work of an artist who loves and cares for our nightmares as well as our favorite movies, who takes the time to re-introduce us to them. “Here we are,” the paintings seem to say, “don’t you like us?” And we do. I thought perhaps the people in the paintings might be evil, or sad, or sick — no, Fuller says, “they just exist.”

- Olivia Kan-Sperling


Vilte Fuller was born in 1996 in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and lives and works in London. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2015 with a degree in Fine Art: Painting and Printmaking. Fuller's work has been included in exhibitions at Niru Ratnam, London; and at superzoom and Galerie Hussenot, Paris. 


Press Release

Cultbytes- Vilte Fuller Brings Grit, Glam, and Horror to Life at Polina Berlin Gallery  






Hug me please, 2022, oil, acrylic and thread on canvas, 23 x 30 inches
58.4 x 76.2cm / Photo: Steven Probert



Frozen fish market on the A1, 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas, 66 x 50 inches
167.6 x 127cm / Photo: Steven Probert



'Kavinė Valgykla' reviews are good on TripAdvisor, 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas, 8 x 12 inches
20.3 x 30.5cm / Photo: Steven Probert




Carrie Rudd

Vitals

June 9 - July 29, 2022



EDGING!! (Light), 2022, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches 
91.4 x 122 cm / Photo: Steven Probert


Polina Berlin Gallery is pleased to present Vitals, an exhibition of new paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Carrie Rudd. The exhibition will be on view from June 9 through July 29, 2022.

Carrie Rudd contends with oil paint in masses. Her succulent abstractions are marinated in tactile consideration, emerging out of a concern for painting’s boundaries. She labors to make the most out of her surfaces, building up and exhuming layers of paint to reveal unexpected vignettes. The resulting works are gluttonous yet considered, indexed yet frenetic.

Rudd is persistently devious, dreaming, planning, and configuring. The ideas she hatches are a springboard for her compositions; one work picks up where another leaves off. Each painting poses its own specific challenge: as she approaches a canvas, a procedure is enacted, one that implicates lyricality and measure. Rudd prods at failing systems and the body’s limits along with her own relationship with desire, shame, and self denial. She explores modes of communication and historical precedents. It’s crucial that Rudd doubles as an art historian, exhibiting a deference to the past while making a case for painting’s future.

Carrie Rudd was born in Hastings on Hudson, New York, in 1994, and completed her MFA at Hunter College in 2021. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Hunter College, Hauser & Wirth, New York, and the Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, New York.


Press release 





BUT HE'S NOT DEAD YET, 2022, oil on canvas, 72 x 72 inches
183 x 183 cm / Photo: Steven Probert



A Jacket is Short and a Coat is Long, 2022, oil on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
213.4 x 152.4 cm / Photo: Steven Probert




Tamo Jugeli

Solitaire

May 3 - June 4, 2022



Untitled, 2022, liquid watercolor, oil, and acrylic emulsion on canvas, 60 x 72 inches
152.4 x 182.9 cm / Photo: Steven Probert


Polina Berlin Gallery is pleased to present Solitaire, an exhibition of new paintings by Georgian artist Tamo Jugeli. On view May 3 through June 4, 2022, this marks the artist’s first one-person exhibition in the United States.

Tamo Jugeli abstracts without directives, allowing intuition to guide the brush, producing gestural surfaces that are singular to her. She carves out her own space, pushing forward in alliance with her paints. Her compositions are lyrical; the figures that emerge are fortuitous and never preconceived. Forgoing themes, Jugeli commits herself to a practice driven by instinct. She turns off her analytical impulse, scavenging for what she needs as she lets go in the studio. Jugeli aligns herself with wrist and body painters, oscillating between large and small scale gestures, figuration and abstraction.

“What we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning,” notes the lauded German physicist Werner Heisenberg. Jugeli grapples with this as she deciphers her own painterly impulses; wielding a brush attuned to her own frequencies, like a divining rod in search of some elemental source. Compositions are marked by equivocality; a dog emerges or maybe it’s a bird or a cloud or not a shape but a series of lines that become a form by incident and then encounter.

Jugeli falls in line with John Graham’s musings on abstraction and the artist’s role. She pushes her paintings forward, “into the future or what is the ultimate logical destination of the given object in terms of form.” Abstraction is painting in its “highest” and “most difficult” form as “it requires of the artist the ability to take full stock of reality and the ability to make a departure from it,” postulates Graham. Jugeli studies her surroundings, meditates upon happenstance until she has observed and mastered a space, then moves on to the next.

This exhibition marks Jugeli’s first time working with specialized watercolors — new materials that the artist glides like velvet stains onto the canvas’s surface. Jugeli’s newest body of work is also shaped in part by the landscape of New York. Having spent the past two months in the city, her toolbox is brimming with new images and objects. Her propensity for experimentation begets a practice that remains resolutely unstatic. She loathes permanence, the “plan” is no plan at all. Flat. Raw. Fast. These works open out to the world much like Jugeli herself.

Tamo Jugeli was born in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1994. Jugeli’s work has been included in exhibitions at Gallery Artbeat and TBC Concept, Tbilisi; Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography, Mestia; among others.


Press release

Artnet News - Editors’ Picks: 8 Events for your Art Calendar This Week

T The New York Times Style Magazine Art Issue- The Enduring Appeal of the Self-Taught Artist






Untitled, 2022, liquid watercolor, oil, and acrylic emulsion on canvas, 60 x 60 inches
152.4 x 152.4 cm / Photo: Steven Probert





Untitled, 2022, oil and gesso on board, 15 x 20 inches
38.1 x 50.8 cm / Photo: Steven Probert




Emotional Intelligence

February 22 - April 23, 2022



Shannon Cartier Lucy, Brice Guilbert, Loie Hollowell, Tamo Jugeli, Jo Messer, Hanae Moreno-Niimi, Justine Neuberger, Alison Peery, Carrie Rudd, Markeidric Walker

Polina Berlin Gallery is pleased to announce Emotional Intelligence, a group exhibition opening February 22, 2022, marking the gallery’s inaugural exhibition at 165 East 64th Street.

The term “emotional intelligence” entered the collective consciousness in 1995 to describe the capacity to perceive and understand emotions and use them to steer thinking and behavior. Forgoing the systems-based, data harvesting approach to deciphering meaning, Emotional Intelligence brings together ten artists mining new tropes at the intersection of abstraction and figuration. Ebullient, poignant, and at times confounding, the works included represent a plodding forth, a pushing, and a ripening. Through the process of examining, obscuring, and revealing, heightened emotional states are leveraged to extract fresh modes of representation and probe understanding.

Press release

T The New York Times Style Magazine - A New Gallery on the Upper East Side

The Guide.Art - Emotional Intelligence Review 

Ocula- In The Studio with Brice Guilbert