Oren Pinhassi at Helena Anrather

Artist: Oren Pinhassi

Exhibition title: Lone and Level

Venue: Helena Anrather, New York, US

Date: May 20 – June 30, 2021

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Helena Anrather, New York

Helena Anrather is pleased to present Lone and Level, the gallery’s first exhibition with the artist Oren Pinhassi, which also marks a new body of work that meets at the intersections of architecture, furniture, landscape, and the body.

These blurred boundaries converge in Pinhassi’s interest in caryatids, columns sculpted in the shape of human figures that are bodies and architecture at the same time. Caryatids communicate in a visceral, empathetic way the otherwise abstract and invisible function of load-bearing, blurring any number of the boundaries that typically organize the built environment—between body and building, form and function, architecture and nature. Pinhassi understands this fundamental fluidity as a sensuality inherent in construction: the tectonic as erotic.

Reminiscent of ancient, crumbling caryatids, three looming figures are perched on boulders inside the gallery. With their bases curled over the edges of these rocks, suggesting a precarious poise, they also occupy a precarious ontological position. Somewhere between human form and raw material, the works evince an indeterminate and fragmentary figuration, resisting concrete representation while always deeply anthropomorphic. Lumps and protrusions suggest limbs and appendages, open cavities suggest eyes or a mouth. Pinhassi’s primary materials are plaster and sand, methodically layered over welded steel skeletons. The tactile surface of these works announces itself as handmade, suggesting not only bodies but bodily contact and simultaneously evoking the touch of the artist and inviting that of the viewer.

While building on Pinhassi’s mastery of this idiosyncratic method, the exhibition also comprises a new exploration of the raw materiality of sand itself. What the sculptures explore at the level of form and surface, sand echoes through its very nature as a material. It shifts, it erodes, it blows away. It is impossible to pin down—a queer material, a destabilizing force in the landscape. Here, vinyl slip covers filled with wet sand cover the gallery floor. Crossing the threshold, visitors find themselves in a world where architecture, landscape, and furniture converge, the pillowy moist sand both inviting their touch and emphatically sealed off from it. The slipcovers evoke the danger of contamination, of stains and ruin, of sand in the proverbial gears. These mediating membranes remind us that boundaries will always provoke both desire and fear, and that both can, in turn, inspire transgression.

Oren Pinhassi graduated from the Yale School of Art in 2014. Recent solo shows include The Crowd, Edel Assanti, London and St. Cyprian’s, Clarence Gate; Castello San Basilio, Basilicata, 2019; Palazzo Monti, Brescia, 2019; One in the mouth and one in the heart at Skibum MacArthur, Los Angeles, 2018; Springs at the Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Israel, 2017; Nature Calls at RIBOT Gallery, Milan, 2017; Hanging Gardens at New Capital Projects, Chicago, 2016. Group exhibitions include For Mario at Tina Kim Gallery, New York, 2019; Four at Yossi Milo, New York, 2019; This Is Not A Prop at David Zwirner, New York, 2018. Completed residencies include Outset Contemporary Art Fund’s Bialik Residency, 2017, the Shandanken Project at Storm King Sculpture Park, New York, 2016 and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, 2014. Pinhassi has been awarded numerous prizes including The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, 2018; Fannie B. Pardee Prize, Yale School of Art, 2014; The Art Slant Prize, 2014; Shlomo Witkin Prize, 2011 and the Excellence Program Scholarship, Israeli Ministry of Education, 2011. Pinhassi lives and works in New York City.