Project: Richard Aldrich
Ten Years of Richard Aldrich from the collection of Bob NickasNovember 6–December 19, 2015 320 West 13th Street Project
This exhibition presents ten works by Richard Aldrich, many never previously shown, acquired by writer and curator Bob Nickas one per year since 2006. Conceived as a ten-year project, this collection may be seen to represent the sort of relationship between artists and collectors of a time gone by: close, committed and evolving over the long term. The same can be said of the interaction between artists and curators, but works commissioned and made for shows inevitably end up in the hands of “third parties,” and sometimes their whereabouts are unknown. From the start of this project, Aldrich’s works were intended to be kept together as a group, exhibited at its conclusion, and accompanied by a modest publication. They each gave one another “an out.” If either wanted to bail on the project at any point then it would come to an earlier end. This group, eventually comprised of 8 paintings, a collage and a drawing, offers an image of friendship, trust and reciprocal engagement.
Painting and music serve as common ground for Aldrich and Nickas, for whom art always has its soundtrack. Their project began with the acquisition of a collage that overlays a motif from painter Daan van Golden with an image of Jaki Liebezeit, the drummer for the ’60s German band Can. It continued with a portrait of Neil Young, includes paintings that reference a film by Yoko Ono, as well as songs by avant-jazz vocalist Patty Waters and outsider/recluse musician Jandek. Other paintings draw their inspiration from Japanese anime, a Halloween costume, and an unwritten sci-fi novel.
Between 2006 and 2015, the dynamics within art and its markets shifted in ways that Aldrich and Nickas could not have predicted. Today, among some who call themselves collectors it would be unthinkable to expect works to be kept for ten months let alone ten years. In this their project unavoidably comments on a recent phenomenon while maintaining what has been, and always will be, a fundamental aspect of value as it relates to exchange. As Nickas insists:
“We only ever understand works of art and those who create them over time, never in the short term, or at least not with any depth. Our proximity to artworks is not a matter of having them but in getting close to them, as with a person, a gradual process, an investment of time and mind.”
In this show at White Columns, these ten works collected over ten years are not only being seen together for the first time in public, but also by the artist and the curator.
A catalog limited to 100 numbered copies, with an introduction by Bob Nickas and notes on the works by Richard Aldrich, will be available.
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