Long-established New York painters Robert Yasuda and Judith Murray, a couple for more than fifty years, show their work side by side for the first time in Duo, their Singapore debut.
Judith Murray works primarily in oil on linen canvases, sculpting paint into lush, exuberant, abstract compositions in combinations of red, yellow, black and white. Yasuda, likewise, produces resoundingly abstract works, but in a quieter, more minimal way, applying acrylic polymer on fabric layered on sensuously carved wood panels.
Both artists challenge traditional notions of painting and sculpture—redefining picture planes and the role of the painting frame. The twenty-five paintings in Duo, most of which were created in the last two years, demonstrate a unique balance between two very distinct bodies of work.
Judith Murray’s solo exhibitions began in 1976 at the historic Betty Parsons-Jock Truman Gallery in New York, followed by solo shows at the legendary Clocktower, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Texas. Her paintings have been included in more than thirty museum exhibitions worldwide, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museo de Art Moderno, Mexico City.
Among Murray’s signature parameters is her limited palette of only four base colors: red, yellow, black and white. The varied hues in the hundreds of works she has produced—paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture—have emerged from just this palette. Murray, who has traveled extensively—from the jungles of South America to the ancient temples of Asia—researching crafts and art, believes it represents her primary universal palette, with references to prehistoric painting and aboriginal art around the world.
Compositionally, Murray works from an off-square format and all her paintings include a vertical bar along the right edge. By their very nature and design, the paintings remain abstract as the bar prevents any completion of pictorial space, landscape or other. The bar creates a tension with the rest of the painting irrespective of the composition, acting as a visual foil.
In addition to a Guggenheim Fellowship, Judith Murray is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award for Painting, and the National Endowment for the Arts Award. Murray was inducted into the National Academy in 2009. In 2006 the internationally acclaimed filmmaker Albert Maysles produced the documentary Judith Murray: Phases and Layers, filming the artist working on a large-scale painting. Her work is in the collections of the United States Embassy in Mumbai; the royal family of Abu Dhabi; National Museum of Art, Warsaw, Poland; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; National Academy Museum, New York; The Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York; The Contemporary Museum, Hawaii; and the New York Public Library.
Robert Yasuda began exploring themes of perception, light and nature in the early 1970s. Increasingly, he became fascinated with the way various kinds of light, natural and artificial, affected the perceived color and character of his works.
His process begins by hand-carving wooden panels, which often take on unexpected shapes and non-traditional forms. Their smooth, gently sloped edges are one of the hallmarks of his work. Yasuda then applies alternate layers of fabric and paint in a palette of luminescent teals, pinks, purples, blues, greens and gold. Building the surface until the desired effect is achieved, each layer of paint and fabric is subtly visible, creating a radiant color field and depth of space, which is reinforced by light reflecting off the intricate weave of the scrim. The surfaces are at once ethereal and architectural.
In addition to his ongoing investigation into the effects of light on surfaces and forms, Yasuda continues to examine the role of the support in his paintings. Having rejected the notion of the conventional painting frame as a decorative or purely functional element, Yasuda consistently introduces new means of context and framing. He attaches cradle-like wooden structures behind and above the paintings, forcing the works forward into space giving them a distinctly sculptural quality. The work is understated and contemplative, revealing itself in a slow and deliberate manner.
Robert Yasuda has been recognized with awards from the John Hay Whitney Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His works are in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; the New York Public Library; the Bass Museum, Miami, Florida; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut; and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas. Notable exhibitions include the Bruno Bischofberger Gallery, Zurich; the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York; MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC.
A catalogue accompanies Duo. It includes an introduction and interview by the legendary American curator Alanna Heiss, founder of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1).
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