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Mud and Magic: Richard Long at Sperone Westwater

Flow and Ebb, Richard Long’s fourteenth show at Sperone Westwater in New York and his first in the Norman Foster-designed building, uses all four floors to display a collection of sculptures, photographs, and text works that fit well within his forty year oeuvre. While none of the works seem demonstrably new, all posses the beguiling magic of Long’s simple practice.

River Avon Mud Crescent, Richard Long, Installation View

A rectangular terrace occupied by loosely-fitted gray, slate bars becomes a meditation on the collective and the individual, on coherence and incoherence. Tiles of slate dipped into mud illustrate ontological relationships. Words painted onto a wall evoke lengthy spans of space and time.

Untitled, 2008, Richard Long

Richard Long: Flow and Ebb opens with an overwhelming and head-tilting painting on the gallery’s double-height, first floor wall. Created specifically for the space, the painting comprises an immense black circle, which is cut by an arc of light-brownish mud. Nearly spanning the entire wall, the work pushes the gallery-goer back on order to take it all in.

The movement enacts a clever positioning between art and viewer, in which the viewer contemplates fully the painting of an eclipse while being partially eclipsed by low-hanging, partial ceiling. Wonderfully messy with wet slaps and drips of mud, the painting’s active section brims with energy and vitality that invades the black space and expands into the white of the wall beyond the circle, evidencing a creator who operates in a space bounded by oblivion.

After that, what is left to be said? Plenty, as it turns out. Though the works in Flow and Ebb vary in size, all are equally expansive. Give them time to unfold.

In the nature of things:

Art about mobility, lightness and freedom.
Simple creative acts of walking and marking about place, locality, time, distance, and measurement.
Works using raw materials and my human scale in the reality of landscapes.

Richard Long

All images courtesy of Sperone Westwater and the artist.

Untilted, 2008, Richard Long

Untilted, 2008, Richard Long

Bowery Slate, Richard Long, 2011

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