Pace London presents its first solo exhibition of the work of Michal Rovner. Panorama is staged at 6 Burlington Gardens from 29 April to 15 June 2015. Since 2004, Pace New York has held four exhibitions of Rovner’s work, which included her renowned projections on stone and paper as well as several of her large scale projections. In the last exhibition in New York, Topography, the artist unveiled her first multi-screen works using new LCD technology, specifically customised for her.
In Panorama, Rovner’s evolved and articulated works continue to explore this medium. These large-scale, multi-screen works combine her signature human figures with the landscape elements which she has been exploring for the last two years. The brooding soulful expression of the human and natural worlds is intertwined through the use of increasingly bold abstraction. Panorama evokes Rovner’s themes of human interaction, dislocation and the persistence of history, while creating a new level of immediacy by further removing the narrative to its barest and most urgent elements. Since first showcasing her video work at her Whitney Museum of American Art retrospective in 2002, Rovner has pioneered the use of the moving image as a non-narrative, non-cinematic medium for the creation of painterly images and installations which, like painting and sculpture, conjure the timeless realities in a way the narrative arts cannot.
Rovner’s discovery that the moving image need not be tied to a sense of beginning, middle and end, and instead may exist in a constant state of the present has opened up the possibilities of video for the 21st century. Since her landmark exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2003, Rovner has expanded her innovations in many directions. Backward, into the historical realm defined by the ancient stones she used as both medium and context; and forward into technological systems that allow for novel expression of her imagery. Adding painting qualities and gestural “brushstrokes” to video recordings of real-life situations, the new work respond to Rovner’s sense of disjointed reality.
“I’m looking at a newspaper, I’m watching television. I want to know, I need to know what is going on in the world. I see details of a reality that is worrisome. Every war is shown, every major act of violence is shown, but you only get a detail. Everything is shown, but you never really see it.” Michal Rovner, March 2015.
Highlights of the exhibition include Array, a work where Rovner’s fascination with archaeology confronts cyclical histories. Images of a black and white field mirror the texture of a drawing, a sketched diagram or an enlarged newspaper print. The human figures, organized in rows, repeat their movements, moving without advancing, in barren fields ploughed with dark lines. Kalaniyot (Anemone) reveals the painterly qualities of this new body of work with its gestural lines that verge on obscuring the figures moving about in the background. Rovner creates an allusive tension as its deep red hues conjure images of a field of flowers and the aftermath of an upheaval.
The eight-panel work Trails resembles large sheets of paper with a panoramic drawing of a weave of paths. The human figures that navigate across the screen in different and seemingly infinite directions are woven into, and in some cases pulled down, by a black current that sweeps across the work. Abandoning any sense of narrative, Rovner is displacing her figures in fragmented sites. Time, as well, seems disrupted, like an event without a beginning or an end. These abstract, painterly video works explore reflections of a reality that is tough, enigmatic and troubling.
Michal Rovner: Panorama – Pace Gallery London – until 15 June 2015