Year Unknown: Jim Lambie

October 29 - December 5, 2020

Anton Kern Gallery is pleased to present Jim Lambie: Year Unknown on the gallery’s third floor. The exhibition features new metal boxes and sunglasses sculptures, and is a decidedly intimate one, with small scale pieces and titles that make connections to personally significant cities and streets. Lambie’s work often references music and art, here resonating in a particularly individual way––subtly invoking the album that changed your life; the concert that blew your mind; the painting that made you see the world differently. 

The artist’s ongoing Metal Box series is inspired by gig posters––those advertisements for band performances that are posted and re-posted on the sides of concert venues and abandoned plywood walls––and the way the corners of those posters slowly start to peel and reveal the layers of previous performances. The metal boxes have a rhythm and vibrancy that mirror their musical roots; made from conjoined aluminum and polished steel panels, each box appears to be adhered together, except, of course, at the corners, where the layers are hand-bent back on themselves. In the new works, Lambie has made them at the smallest scale yet, each sheet the size of a record album. The tactility is palpable––the viewer invited to greet them with the kind of intimacy and understanding one has with a worn and well-handled favorite album. The works are also an homage to Josef Albers––and his homage to the square, as well as his unwavering relentless devotion to it, and the endlessness of the idea. Lambie’s metal boxes, too, have the potential for unlimited possibilities. 

The interior layer of the works in the exhibition are sometimes mirrored; sometimes painted in chameleon paint, the colors of which transform as the viewer walks around; and sometimes with bright, dazzling glitter paint. The surprise colors and intricate bends of each layer and interior take on an undulating grooviness; the Street and City titles in the exhibition invoking a walk through place and time: the street corner where you lined up to see your favorite band; the way seeing an exhibition changed your brain; a sudden rush of memory of the first time you heard that song or poured over that art book in a friend’s basement. 

Interspersed with the metal boxes are new lens sculptures, which are made with found sunglasses lenses that are fused together using traditional stained glass techniques and solder materials. Lambie has created a modern remix of the venerated artistic tradition, using the ultimate symbol of cool. The colorful shadows cast on the walls by each different lens, coupled with the way viewers and their surroundings are reflected, creates a richly saturated, slightly psychedelic, landscape. 

Together, the works in Year Unknown offer a contemplative and dynamic journey, one that is both of this moment but also timeless. Lambie’s transformation of humble materials––lenses, aluminum sheets, industrial paints––into these vibrant odes defies their seeming simplicity. The artist encourages the viewer to relish in color, light, and shape––finding meaning in the things we all see that unite us as humans, and the ways we can still find joy in the everyday. 

Jim Lambie was born in 1964 in Glasgow, where he lives and works today. His work is included in numerous public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Edinburgh National Gallery, TATE, Zabludowicz Collection, DESTE Foundation, Rubell Family Collection, Albright Knox Museum, Mora Foundation, Cincinnati Art Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In 2000, Lambie was presented the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in London; and in 2005 his installation Mental Oyster was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. He represented Scotland at the 50th Venice Biennale. Recent solo exhibitions include Northern Soul, Sadie Coles HQ, London (2020); Totally Wired, Franco Noero, Italy (2018); Spiral Scratch, Pacific Place, Hong Kong (2018); and Both Ends Burning, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Dusseldorf (2018). Other recent group exhibitions include Op Art in Focus, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (2018); Mad World, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA (2018); Five Plus Five: Sculptures of China and Great Britain, Haikou Hainan Airlines Sun & Moon Plaza, Hainan, China (2018); and ISelf Collection: The Upset Bucket, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2018). 

Installation Views