Marlborough is pleased to announce the two-person exhibition Shall we sit, stand or kneel?, featuring New York artist Hannah Levy and British artist Michael Simpson, conceived by and organized with Wills Baker. Although from different backgrounds and generations, Levy and Simpson each unravel a dark comedy of humanistic confinement in the objects and ergonomics of the cleric.
Michael Simpson’s paintings of leper squints, titled after the small holes in medieval churches (built to allow sufferers of leprosy and other “undesirables” to listen to a sermon without sitting amongst the congregation) point to the authoritarian devices employed by the institution. While Simpson’s paintings directly address the infamy of religious history, he utilizes seemingly flattened compositions which, upon close inspection, reveal an inner surface that works both in pigment and formal line to yield a dynamic and complex display of the act of painting itself.
Hannah Levy’s sculptures use flesh-colored cast silicone and wrought nickel-plated steel to mimic the erotic and industrial. Her bench constructions twist the synthetic into bindings of the metal grid. This vision-like engineering reflects a physicality while providing a ubiquitous domestic form with new agency where a relationship to figuration, death, and debased flesh are emphasized.
In sharing an architectural language with Simpson, Levy’s benches complement his paintings, humanizing and alerting the viewer to their corporeality—something often dismissed or repressed by the instruments of socio-religious institutions. Moving between abstraction and representation, the artists situate their work in a purgatory where links between the spiritual and everyday world are broken down. By transforming and recalibrating—through secularization or sheer perversion—objects with embedded power, meant to elicit obedience or faith, become undermined.
Hannah Levy (b.1991) lives and works in New York, NY. She studied at Cornell University (2013) and received a Meisterschüler title from, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2015). Selected past exhibitions include: And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, 247365, New York, NY,(2016); Soft Costs_ Money Over World, Wiesen, Kunstverein Wiesen, Germany, (2016); Hannah Levy, White Flag Library, St Louis, MO; Live in yours, play in ours, Galerie Parisa Kind, Frankfurt, Germany,(2015); Basic Essentials, Allen and Eldridge at James Fuentes Gallery, New York, NY,(2015); Vegetative State, Deuxie?me Bureau Galerie Parisa Kind, Frankfurt Germany, (2014); Parked Like Serious Oysters, Museum Fu?r Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany, (2015).
Michael Simpson (b.1940) lives and works in Wiltshire. He studied at Bournemouth College of Art (1958-60) and Royal College of Art, London (1960-63). Selected past exhibitions include: Study #6, David Roberts Arts Foundation, London (2014); The Leper Squint Paintings 2012 - 13, David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen (2013); Michael Simpson, presented by David Risley Gallery, Volta, New York (2008); Bench Paintings - Recent Paintings 2005-2006, David Risley Gallery, London (2007); Michael Simpson, The Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon (2005); Bench Paintings 1992-1995, Arnolfni Gallery, Bristol and Oriel Davies, Newtown (1996); Recent paintings, Serpentine Gallery (1985); Paintings 1980-1983, Arnolfni Gallery Bristol (1983); Six Large Paintings, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (1973). He is the first prize winner and recipient of the 2016 John Moores Painting Prize.
Wills Baker was born in Knoxville, TN and is a writer and exhibition maker based in Brooklyn, NY.