Terry Haggerty

July 15, 2007 - January 6, 2008


Terry Haggerty’s vibrant wall paintings conjure nostalgic associations from the mustard yellow and avocado décor of the 1960s and 1970s, to optical art, to the precise lines of sugar icing on pastries. He combines humorous and historical references to form abstract compositions that electrify and manipulate the space around them. Haggerty applies multiple coats of paint to create sleek surfaces and utilizes simple lines which, when viewed together, create masterful geometries that seem to blend and curve each wall.

About the Exhibition

By Friedrich Meschede

British-born artist Terry Haggerty, who currently lives and works in New York, has become known in recent years for paintings that express the formalist vocabulary of abstraction in a new way. The principle of serial composition can be discerned in Haggerty’s work: light-colored stripes alternate with darker ones to form regular, often horizontal arrangements, which also have a patternlike quality due to their dense structure. This would not seem particularly remarkable were it not for the fact that Haggerty breaks this linear formation at the edges of the painting—and occasionally also at the symmetrical center of the composition—by bending the lines in a different direction as they approach the boundaries of the painting support. This has a crucial effect on the overall pictorial appearance, in that it immediately transforms the planimetric structure of the painted motif into an illusory perception of three-dimensionality within the image. The surface seems to continue beyond the boundaries of the picture support, with the result that the two-dimensional paintings suddenly resemble painted volumes or reflect the illusory perception of a third dimension back onto the pictorial motif.

Considered and viewed from the edges, these sequences of horizontal stripes seem like layered and apparently three-dimensional planes of color stacked one behind the other. This impression is also conveyed when the lines are bent at the center of the composition, leading the gaze along a symmetrical axis as if the viewer were suddenly to be drawn behind the image. In a curious way, these works by Haggerty combine the tradition of Minimalist painting with the artistic principles and various interpretations of a form of expression that went before it—Op Art, a movement developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s that involved the use of perceptual phenomena as a creative tool. There is, however, an inherent contradiction in the aims of these two artistic trends, which are in fact divergent: nonobjective painting sought to create a spiritual space that extended beyond the boundaries of the artwork, whereas the aim of optical abstraction was to activate the phenomena of a created picture surface in order to produce specific effects within the boundaries of the image. The synthesis sought by Haggerty in his works can therefore be understood as a reduction and modified application of the formal means and possibilities offered to him by his art historical predecessors. His experience of the discipline of painting is first and foremost as a practice through which it is possible to investigate and explore the effects of planar surface and spatial illusion, of cool and warm color combinations. More

Translated from the German by Jacqueline Todd.

Friedrich Meschede is head of the Department of Visual Arts at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm at DAAD Berlin, where he curates projects with artists-in-residence in collaboration with other contemporary art institutions in Berlin.



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