To best understand New York artist B. Wurtz‘s latest exhibition “Works in Handmade Paper,” attendees should first consider its venue: Dieu Donné. The gallery happens to be the premiere facility for “collaborative creation of contemporary art using the process of hand paper-making.” Founded in 1976, the venue is the site of a paper studio that hosts artistic residencies and an archive of work from their 40 year history. Through their collaborations with established and emerging artists, they aim to keep the craft of paper-making and its use in art, alive.
The works on display now, created by Wurtz between 2013 and 2015, were crafted inside Dieu Donné’s studio, during the artist’s Lab Grant Program residency. There is tremendous variation in the way he utilizes and incorporates handmade paper in his work. There are sculptural forms and a re-imagined logo; there’s experimentation, but understanding. Oftentimes, the work is humorous and yet many of his pieces boil existence down to its most basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. A standout, an artwork called “Untitled (7820)” (2014), was crafted from watermarked, pigmented abaca with linen pulp paint on top of a cotton base sheet. Within the work, he rearranges the letter l, i, f and e to compose a series of human faces. It’s charming, yet simply creative.
At the core of everything, however, is paper. Wurtz employs pulp paint, and various types of paper for collaging. He uses sheets and layering to various effect. Some pieces are purely paper structures, set within other materials—and vice versa. Paper was once a forethought in the creation of art, but today, it can easily slip into an afterthought. And yet, at Dieu Donné—as seen through the work of Wurtz—it factors in front and center again.
“Works in Handmade Paper” is running now through 6 June 2015 at Dieu Donné, 315 West 36th Street, New York.
Images courtesy of Dieu Donné