Roni Horn's Butterfly Doubt

Hauser & Wirth show serves as a testament to her practice of drawing which she likens to breathing
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Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth
Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Roni Horn’s recent drawings, which see the artist continuing her engagement with exuberant word plays and linguistic slippages are the subject of a great new show across Hauser & Wirth's two Saville Row spaces running this month and next.

It's called ‘Butterfly Doubt’ and serves as a testament to Horn’s continued daily practice of drawing, which the artist has in the past likened to breathing, in an attempt to invoke the integral nature that drawing represents in her practice. As readers of our Contemporary Artists Series book Roni Horn will know Horns work spans sculpture, photography and site-specific installation.

 

Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Remembered Words – (Sourpuss) (detail), 2013 Gouache, watercolour, graphite, Japan colour and gum arabic on paper
Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Remembered Words – (Sourpuss) (detail), 2013 Gouache, watercolour, graphite, Japan colour and gum arabic on paper

Approaching Hauser & Wirth from the South, the visitor comes to Horn’s 2014 series 'Or' consisting of five large-scale drawings that beckon the visitor into the space. Each is formed by the artist’s amalgamation of two drawings or ‘plates’ as Horn refers to them; a sacrificial process in which the two pieces are spliced and fragmented and then collaged into a new work built up with varnish, gouache and charcoal. Much like Horn’s sculptural works, they are alluringly tactile.

 

Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Remembered Words - (Fat) (detail), 2013 Gouache, watercolour, graphite, Japan colour and gum arabic on paper
Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Remembered Words - (Fat) (detail), 2013 Gouache, watercolour, graphite, Japan colour and gum arabic on paper

Viewed from afar, Horn’s drawings conjure grand associations of aerial views or Earth’s sweeping weather systems seen from space – such are the arcing planes and their suggestion of metamorphosing forms. But draw in closer and time seems to accelerate as the shattered surface of each drawing is honed into focus and your eyes tick across the handwritten penciled annotations. In Or I, a cerebral cluster of royal blue gouache forms a knot of lines that converge in the drawing’s centre, and then fly off to its outer edges.

 

Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Hack Wit - aching cheap, 2014 Watercolour, pen and ink, gum arabic on watercolour paper, cellophane tape
Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Hack Wit - aching cheap, 2014 Watercolour, pen and ink, gum arabic on watercolour paper, cellophane tape

Just as you're wondering what Horn's interest in language and its place in these drawings might be, the next gallery space, where two series ‘Remembered Words’ (2013) and ‘Hack Wit’ (2014) promises to provide an answer, . The latter is a series of drawings that spell out sayings from the artist’s dreamy muddling of everyday phrases. ‘A fools rainbow chasing paradise’ or ‘chasing blue out of the rainbow ­– woozy, childishly rendered words float into their newly configured meanings. In her collaging and reconfiguring of these proverbs, Horn’s words bounce out of context, disrupting our usual thought process and cognitive associations.

 

Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Remembered Words - (Drive-in) (detail), 2013 Gouache, watercolour, graphite, Japan colour and gum arabic on paper
Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Remembered Words - (Drive-in) (detail), 2013 Gouache, watercolour, graphite, Japan colour and gum arabic on paper

If Horn’s drawings in this exhibition have a subject, it is perhaps the nature of thought itself: not linear, but shifting and indeterminate like the surfaces on which her words float. If you can't make this great show you can read more about it at Hauser & Wirth and you can learn more about Roni Horn's practice with our Contemporary Artists Series book Roni Horn in which she talks at length about the intricate themes and structures in her work.

 

Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Hack Wit - water star, 2014 Watercolour, pen and ink, gum arabic on watercolour paper, cellophane tape
Butterfly Doubt - Roni Horn, installation shot courtesy Hauser & Wirth Hack Wit - water star, 2014 Watercolour, pen and ink, gum arabic on watercolour paper, cellophane tape

 


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