September 6-October 11, 2023
Alexander Berggruen is pleased to present Paul Kremer / Sets. This exhibition will open Wednesday, September 6, 2023 with a 5-7 pm reception at the gallery (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3, New York, NY).
For this new body of paintings in Paul Kremer / Sets, Paul Kremer furthered the progressive and iterative components of his exuberant shapes on canvas and, in certain instances in this show, his multi-canvas quadriptych works. Within the sets of shapes exist repeated forms that take on new meaning when situated in unique compositions. His eponymous Set paintings contain four elements that may be rotated and reordered in versatile arrangements. As with his celebrated “Great Art in Ugly Rooms” series, in which Kremer places art historic masterworks in unexpected (and often shabby) places, as the title of that project suggests, Kremer continues to boldly play with context with the new Sets featured in this solo exhibition, revealing a lively adaptability.
Kremer’s latest paintings maintain his hard-edged, flat, modernist style painted with the same blend of wet, yet opaque acrylic paint that drips down the edges of his canvases, striking a balance between controlled mark-making and seemingly-spontaneous motion on all four edges. Since his 2020 solo show with Alexander Berggruen Layer Hooks, his gaze has turned towards curved shapes, frequently reminiscent of flowers, fruits, and foliage.
From often spontaneous drawings and his own archive of previous work, Kremer extracts the shapes he likes: those that vaguely resemble a form or spark an emotion for him. The artist adapts these shapes to new contexts, engendering novel interpretations. The Cradle, Exchange, Void, and Mother paintings all feature a similar ovular shape, most often with a smoothly rounded half and an irregular, jagged half. In Cradle 04, the addition of this shape transforms another shape–seemingly representing vine-like leaves–into a flower above two leaves on its stem. Meanwhile in his Mother series, the shape may be viewed as an egg yolk embedded within a cracked open egg.
Kremer’s visual logic is rooted in, in his words: “a unified but endlessly variable set of possibilities for new works, based on a process that allows for both creation and re-use, as well as generation and derivation.” To achieve this, Kremer often customizes technologies. In the past, he has employed his own rotating easel; his 2019 sculpture Extracted Sciographer to visualize how color, light, and space interact; and artificial intelligence. Most recently, with the help of artist and programmer Leander Herzog, Kremer built what he calls: “a personal master tool to manipulate previously drawn shapes and specific color palettes into rapidly changeable randomized compositions.” In a feedback loop of his own artistic practice, Kremer stated that some of his works “influenced the tools, while the tools themselves informed other works.”
Passing along a creative tool to future exhibitors of these works, Kremer’s quadriptych Set paintings may adapt to their environments. The artist composed his Sets on four distinct panels and is happy for them to be displayed in various layouts: in a grid, a totem, a diamond, a row, or meeting in the corner of a room. Offering a similar iterative approach that Kremer applies to his work in the studio, the artist invites curators to collaborate more directly. Kremer’s openness to adjusting the installation of the distinct canvases recalls artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Sam Francis as both artists sometimes encouraged the hang of their work to be tailored with respect to the environment’s architecture, lighting, and nearby objects. This mechanic reveals the artist’s hope for a life of continued growth for his work beyond the studio and a willingness to accommodate any context that may arise. Imbuing his work with resiliency to uphold its integrity within the constraints of any space, Kremer’s modular approach is liberal and optimistic.
The adaptability of Kremer’s work–through his shapes, his tools, and the installation of his multi-paneled work to ensure the best possible presentation–reflects the adaptable qualities of the mind. As he continues to learn through each composition and as new technology is presented to him, Kremer adjusts his artistic practice, iterating on and propagating more from his core set of tools: his shapes and colors. In a world of flux, where others may see closure, Kremer sees openings of luxuriant light.
Press Release by Kirsten Cave
On the occasion of this exhibition, the artist has designed a book that illustrates the various arrangements he suggests for how to hang the quadriptychs.
Paul Kremer / Sets will run at Alexander Berggruen (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3) from September 6-October 11, 2023. The exhibition’s preview is available upon request. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery at email@example.com.
Paul Kremer’s Studio, Houston, TX, 2023.
This exhibition follows the artist’s first solo show with the gallery Paul Kremer: Layer Hooks (February 7-March 11, 2020) and his inclusion in the gallery’s group show Shapes (April 21-May 27, 2021). Alexander Berggruen represents the artist.
Paul Kremer (b. 1971, Chicago, IL) is an American artist known for his unique minimalist abstractions, which utilize traditional methods of painting with acrylics and gouache on canvas to create heavily formal compositions softened by the texture of their permeable support. Kremer’s work oscillates between digitally printed meditations on the internet and massive color field abstractions. Kremer is also known for having invented the now cult-followed social media account “Great Art in Ugly Rooms,” an internet phenomenon that presents shockingly realistic photo renderings of masterworks in laundromats, public restrooms, discount stores, and the like. For a span of twenty years, Kremer owned a graphic design studio and worked with renowned clients including Lou Reed, Tom Waits, PBS, and National Geographic. During this time, Kremer also co-founded the art collective “I Love You Baby,” a group of artists that held all-night painting parties from the 90s to the mid-aughts. A self-taught artist, Kremer’s works have garnered global recognition, being held in numerous collections and showcased in both solo and group exhibitions worldwide. He has been included in publications such as The New York Times, Interview Magazine, and Whitelies Magazine. Kremer lives and works in Houston, Texas.
There are major design echoes in Sets, a new body of work by the Houston-based artist Paul Kremer for the New York gallery Alexander Berggruen — vintage Marimekko sheets and Milton Glaser Bob Dylan vibes chief among them. And although Kremer’s practice is firmly rooted in painting, he has a tinkerer’s spirit, often customizing technologies to suit his whims, like a rotating easel; “more recently, with the help of artist and programmer Leander Herzog, Kremer built what he calls ‘a personal master tool to manipulate previously drawn shapes and specific color palettes into rapidly changeable randomized compositions.’ In a feedback loop of his own artistic practice, Kremer has stated that some of his works ‘influenced the tools, while the tools themselves informed other works.’”