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Ron Gorchov: Serapis

Winter 2014

 

At fourteen feet tall and thirteen feet wide, Serapis bisects the lobby, standing as a massive and totemic structure that marks the entrance to the Museum. Visitors are invited to move around it, seeing both its painterly facade and the raw monumentality of the wooden structure that supports it. Bringing together a number of Gorchov’s interests, Serapis allows viewers to rediscover the practice of an artist who has been working for more than fifty years. 

Throughout his career, Gorchov has investigated the possibilities of painting as object through the creation of shield-like wooden armatures on which he tightly stretches his canvases. As the painted image peels away from or curves into the wall, it appears to be in flux, expanding or contracting. The work, therefore, inhabits a space between painting and sculpture and allows for a dialogue between surface and structure. Gorchov’s formal language can be both minimal—monochromes and color fields—and painterly—with gestural strokes, layering, drips, and rubs in abstract compositions. His palette is varied and vast, from muted to vivid tones. 

Simultaneously painting, sculpture, and architecture, Serapis takes its name from the ancient Greco-Egyptian god Serapis. Developed by Ptolemy I in the third century BC, Serapis’s cult combined aspects of both Greek and Egyptian religions in order to unite the two cultures. Gorchov’s work is a monumental totem, physically bringing together disparate media as well as serving as a sign of common understanding and unification. 

Ron Gorchov (b. 1930, Chicago) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include shows at 39 Great Jones, Lesley Heller Workspace, and Cheim & Read, all in New York City. His work has been shown in numerous shows nationally and internationally. Among his many awards are the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts Award for Painting. Gorchov’s paintings are included in many prominent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, and the Guggenheim.

Ron Gorchov: Serapis is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Lisa Melandri, Director.