On the occasion of this unlikely but fruitful pairing, Jorge Pardo has selected photographs by Sarah Charlesworth and made new drawings by layering her images, turning the late artist’s technique of image appropriation on its head by applying it to her own work. Through abstraction and evidence of hand-made production, Pardo counters Charlesworth’s aesthetic of seamless professionalism and underlines their diverse approaches to the manipulation of found images. A light fixture and furniture set by Pardo transform the gallery into an interior, acknowledging the decorative function of hanging pictures and complicating a singular reading of the works.
Charlesworth’s conceptually driven and visually alluring photo-based works subvert and deconstruct cultural imagery. To produce her celebrated Objects of Desire series (1983–1989), Charlesworth meticulously excised images from a range of sources and re-photographed the cutouts against fields of pure color. Enclosed within lacquered frames, the seductive Cibachrome prints propose an iconography of visual culture while acknowledging their own status as desirable objects. In later series such as Natural Magic, Charlesworth constructed and photographed lavish sets, maintaining a focus on isolated images and vibrant, saturated, fields of color.
Known largely for his public sculpture, architecture, and design, Pardo is fond of wild color combinations, natural light, and diverse materials. These considerations also inform the artist’s drawings, which are made from found images layered using digital manipulation. Once the source images are barely recognizable and the composition almost completely abstract, the outlines are engraved into board and filled with vibrant tones of soft colored pencil and vivid acrylic paint by hand. A layer of automotive lacquer completes the work, creating a pure surface that references the high shine of Charlesworth’s prints.
Pardo’s drawings function as an archive of Charlesworth’s photographs, which appear like shadows trapped under his glittering façades. The archival gesture is exaggerated by the presence of Charlesworth’s referents hanging on nearby walls, which further complements their shared understanding of the endlessly reproducible nature of images. The furniture, also constructed in wood and finished with lacquer, is a “deflector of seriousness,” as Pardo says––pulling the artworks back into the world from which they came.
Sarah Charlesworth (1947-2013, b. East Orange, New Jersey) has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at many institutions, including the major survey, “Sarah Charlesworth: Doubleworld,” at the New Museum, New York (2015), which traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2017); and a retrospective organized by SITE Santa Fe (1997), which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1998); the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC (1998); and the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art (1999). Her work is in important public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Jorge Pardo (b. 1963, Havana, Cuba) has had one-person exhibitions at Pinacoteca de Estado São Paulo, São Paulo (2019); Hacienda la Rojeña, Tequila, MX (2019); Victoria Miro, London (2018); Petzel, New York (2017); José García, Mérida, MX (2016); David Gill Gallery, London (2015); Musée des Augustins, Toulouse (2014); neugerriemschneider, Berlin (2014); Gagosian Gallery, New York (2010); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2010); K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2009); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2008); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2007). His work is part of numerous public collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Pardo currently lives and works in Mérida, Mexico.