Tomma Abts Exhibition Opens at Hammer Museum Summer 2008

First Major U.S. Presentation of Paintings by Tomma Abts Arrives at Hammer Museum Summer 2008

On view at the Hammer July 27 – November 9, 2008

Los Angeles, CA - On July 27, the first major U.S. solo exhibition of paintings by London-based artist Tomma Abts (born Kiel, Germany, 1967) opens at the Hammer Museum. The exhibition originated at the New Museum in New York and is organized by Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator. The exhibition includes roughly fifteen paintings created over the past ten years, as well as a selection of colored pencil drawings. Abts’ works might be modest in size—18 7/8 by 15 inches (48 x 38 cm)—but actually they are extremely ambitious undertakings.

She makes paintings and drawings that upon first impression might seem rigid and obsessive. However, when seen up close and in person, that rigidity dissipates and an almost meditative quality emerges. From far away they can appear perfectly polished and almost machine-like but up close the hand of the maker cannot be denied and it is clear that each painting is the result of a laborious process of decision making.

Small, severe, and intense, Abts’ work challenges notions of space and color in two-dimensions. Her rich, carefully layered compositions and deliberate use of color create spatial tensions resulting in a sense of robust sculptural form. Abts’ colors are often indescribable, and her combinations can be muted or charged, daring viewers to recalibrate their assumptions about color, surface and line. Her intensive process of working and reworking the image is contemplative, even visionary and the intensity of that process radiates out of the picture plane capturing the attention of the viewer.

Abts is the recipient of the 2006 Turner Prize, awarded by Tate Britain in London, one of the most prestigious honors in the contemporary art world. She was included in the 2001 Istanbul Biennial, the 2004 Carnegie International, and the 2006 Berlin Biennial; and in solo exhibitions in Europe at the Kunsthalle, Kiel (2006) and the Kunsthalle, Basel (2005). Since 1999, she has had solo exhibitions in commercial galleries in Berlin, Cologne, and London.

The accompanying monograph Tomma Abts is the first of its kind on the artist and includes reproductions of more than fifty paintings and works on paper. The publication is a study of Abts’ paintings and drawings in the context of contemporary art and the history of abstraction. Co-published by the New Museum and Phaidon Press, London, the book features essays by Los Angeles-based critic Bruce Hainley; Berlin-based critic Jan Verwoert; and Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator at the New Museum.

Tomma Abts is organized by the New Museum, New York. The exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and gifts from James-Keith (JK) Brown and Eric G. Diefenbach, and Hilary and Peter Hatch.

Additional support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

Support for the accompanying publication has been provided by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

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