Durham Press has completed a new series of prints with Polly Apfelbaum: Hudson River Valley Nirvana. Initially conceived in 2012, these six woodblock prints use vertical lines and a square format as a starting point from which to explore the interaction of primary and secondary colors.
Apfelbaum adopted a systematic approach to discover the possible images within a set of parameters, much like Joseph Albers’ Interaction of Color. Printed with dozens of narrow wooden blocks, the six works feature the same set of primary and secondary colors that are repeated in different arrangements, with a largely symmetrical structure applied to each image. The variation among the series showcases the unexpected results that can arise from a clear and controlled process. This compositional strategy recalls her early floor works and was an inspiration for a woven floor installation created for the Miss Dior exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, in 2012.
Hudson River Valley Nirvana, like many of Apfelbaum’s works, draws on diverse influences spanning art history, pop culture, and religion. The artist likened the chromatic effect of the prints to the dynamic skies captured by the Hudson River School painters. (Apfelbaum herself spends time in the region, which is a short trip from her New York City studio.) The Hudson River School is one among many of the prints’ artistic and cultural referents. They relate to Minimalism with their fixed compositional structure, but also to psychedelic and Op art. The title of the series, too, is loaded with allusions—for the artist, Nirvana refers equally to the Buddhist concept of enlightenment as it does to the Seattle grunge band. This combination of the “spiritual and punk rock” suggests that viewers are invited both to consider the nuances of the series in quiet contemplation as well as to take in the prints’ energetic colors in quick, unfettered moments.
Hudson River Valley Nirvana and many other prints by Polly Apfelbaum are available directly through Durham Press. For more information, including pricing, please contact Gwyneth Fearnhead.
The Series, as well as new unique works by Polly Apfelbaum, is now on view in NYC at Senior & Shopmaker Gallery untill January 14th.