Dropout [spring 2016]: Guest-curated by Photios Giovanis. Triggered by idiosyncratic artist Lee Lozano, artists respond to her departing New York art scene for Texas in early 1970: Lee Lozano’s angry drawings, Sadie Benning’s wall works, A K Burns’ steel gates, Bracha L Ettinger’s expressive paintings, Ulrike Müller’s abstract oils, and Lee Relvas’ linear wood sculptures. [Scroll down for gallery.] Slide The immediate impact of Lee Lozano’s tool drawings took me by surprise! They were exquisite, luscious, and precisely executed. I have never forgotten those drawings. Hence my interest in Lee Lozano - not to mention the extraordinary coincidence she completed her last artistic endeavor in Dallas. Of all places.

Curator Photios Giovanis invites five artists influenced by Lee Lozano, focusing on Lozano’s life between 1961-1971: eleven years of wildly disparate bodies of work: word-based conceptual pieces; tools and airplanes; sexually charged drawings and paintings; the Wave Paintings; and lastly, Dropout Piece, in which Lozano severed all contact with the art world and moved to Dallas where her parents lived. She died in 1999, and her final act was to be buried in an unmarked grave outside Dallas.

At 41, Lozano left New York, deliberately removed herself from public life and rejected the power of the gallery system, dealers, patriarchy, the commodification of art, capitalism, and the seeking of fame or “sucksess.” What began as a one-month experiment to not speak or interact with women ended up lasting the rest of her life, as an attempt to improve her relationships with women. Feminist critic and curator Lucy Lippard stated, “Lee was extraordinarily intense, one of the first who did the life-as-art-thing. The kind of things other people did as art, she really did as life — it just took us awhile to figure that out.”

Three major museum exhibitions: MOMA PS-1 in 2004, Kunsthalle Basel 2006, and Moderne Museet Stockholm in 2010 have clearly rewritten this artist’s history. Especially in today’s world of art fairs and billionaire collectors, Lozano’s Dropout Piece, a detailed journal describing a work she never intended to make “can be seen as the fundamental act of liberation.”   

Sadie Benning’s white triptych installation is a direct reference to Agnes Martin’s disappearance from the New York art world when she moved to Cuba, New Mexico. Martin disliked interviews: “I don’t like my words to be tape-recorded. It means you have me in your power, I don’t like being in anyone’s power.”
The small, intense canvases of Bracha Ettinger require the same fierce determination of dropping out. Philosopher, psychoanalyst, and feminist, Ettinger works on only a few canvases at a time, each taking years to complete. Ettinger’s singular, fragmented images take on a ghost-like form.

A K Burns’ steel sculpture directly takes the “Known|Unknown” statement from politician Donald Rumsfeld while citing the lack of evidence linking the Iraqi government with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. “There are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns....” Rumsfeld actually was quoting D. H. Lawrence’s poem, New Heaven and New Earth.

Lee Relvas’ sculpture has an endearing and animated quality providing just enough information to predict the next motion of the object, whether it be action or inaction. As in Lozano’s drawings, Relvas’ sculpture is an extension of the pencil and paper: There is almost no difference between the pencil and the extension of the “wood laboriously shaped and sanded.” Relvas acknowledges her work seeks a known|unknown quality. For Lozano, the thrill of the unknown was “the thrill of all thrills.”

The Mimi and Chris paintings of Ulrike Müller directly reference Lozano’s famous Wave Paintings that numbered eleven 96 by 42” canvases based on a mathematical equation. Müller’s works complement an extended electromagnetic spectrum and Lozano’s interest in art, science, and existence.  

These five living and working artists curator Giovanis has gathered in Dropout each reflect a different aspect of the enigmatic work and life of Lee Lozano.
– Rebecca Bruder, collector, Dallas, 2016 LEE LOZANO & COMPANY IN DROPOUT